General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

  1. integrated set of bilateral trade agreements aimed at the abolition of quotas and the reduction of tariff duties among the contracting nations. By the late 20th century, more than 90 nations were signatories to GATT. GATT includes a long schedule of specific tariff concessions for each contracting nation, representing tariff rates that each country has agreed to extend to others. It also sets forth general rules that are, in effect, a code of commercial policy. They provide for unconditional most-favored-nation clauses, the elimination of quotas and other quantitative trade restrictions, uniform customs regulations, and the obligation of each contracting nation to negotiate for tariff cuts upon the request of another. An escape clause allows contracting countries to alter agreements if their domestic producers suffer excessive losses as a result of trade concessions. Countries that are members of a customs union or free-trade area are permitted to grant preferential tariff rates to each other.