The International Studies Public Forum and Department of History present

"The Fight for Free Trade: The Embattled History of the GATT, 1948-1994"
with Francine McKenzie, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences, University of Western Ontario

Thursday, May 30, 2013
5:00-6:30 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100

During the Second World War, a sprawling blueprint for a peaceful postwar order was put in place. One of the core assumptions of the postwar architects was that peace and prosperity were mutually constitutive. As a result, they created several international organizations, notably the IMF and the World Bank, to promote conditions of global economic stability and growth. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was also established. Although its debut was belated and it lacked a proper institutional foundation, its mandate was shaped by the experience of the 1930s and the war: to liberalize trade by lowering or removing barriers to trade. By sparking the growth of global trade, standards of living would rise, states would become interdependent, and the world would be more peaceful, so the reasoning went. The GATT’s core prescriptions – that trade should be open, multilateral, and non-discriminatory – were economic expressions of an idealized international order. Despite widespread belief in the benefits of a liberal global trade regime, in the pursuit of ever freer trade the GATT had to overcome detractors, backsliding, skepticism and crises. This talk will explain who opposed freer trade and will explore the roots of that opposition. It will define the GATT as a transnational actor and an entity bound up in the mainstream of postwar international relations. And it will attempt to evaluate the GATT’s contribution to the creation of a more prosperous and peaceful world.  

For further information, please contact Sandy Cushman, or 949-824-3344.

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