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Origins of the GATT: British Resistance to American Multilateralism


  • James N. Miller

    (Cambridge Univ & Levy Econ Inst)


Fiftieth-anniversary explanations for the efficacy of the GATT imply that the institution's longevity is testimony to the free trade principles upon which it is based. In this light, the predominantly American architects of the system figure as free trade visionaries who benevolently imposed postwar institutions of international cooperation on their war-torn allies. This paper takes issue with such a characterization. Instead, the success of the GATT has been crucially dependent upon its ability to generate pragmatic and detailed policy via a uniquely inclusive forum. An effective institutional procedure, not free trade dogma, has proved key to its endurance—and this feature has been in place since the institution's inception.

Suggested Citation

  • James N. Miller, 2001. "Origins of the GATT: British Resistance to American Multilateralism," Macroeconomics 0012005, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0012005
    Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 46; figures: included

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stein, Arthur A., 1984. "The hegemon's dilemma: Great Britain, the United States, and the international economic order," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 355-386, March.
    2. Irwin, Douglas A, 1995. "The GATT in Historical Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 323-328, May.
    3. Ikenberry, G. John, 1992. "A world economy restored: expert consensus and the Anglo-American postwar settlement," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 289-321, December.
    4. C. Fred Bergsten, 1998. "Fifty Years of the GATT/WTO: Lessons from the Past for Strategies for the Future," Working Paper Series WP98-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    5. Maier, Charles S., 1977. "The politics of productivity: foundations of American international economic policy after World War II," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 607-633, September.
    6. Charles K. Rowley & Willem Thorbecke & Richard E. Wagner, 1995. "Trade Protection In The United States," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 388.
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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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