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The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a treaty created after World War II that regulated world trade in an effort to aide economic recovery.

GATT’s main objective was to remove barriers blocking international trade by reducing tariffs, quotas and subsidies.

World trade remained unregulated after World War I, which some argue helped cause the Second World War. Essentially, GATT established a code of conduct for multinational companies engaged in importing and exporting. Each member nation was expected to equally open its markets to every other member nation, without discrimination.

GATT was signed into international law on January 1, 1948, and included 23 countries. It was first intended to be an interim agreement, but it remained in place and active until the World Trade Organization replaced it in 1995. One hundred and twenty five nations signed on with the World Trade Organization, constituting more than 90% of the world’s trade.

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