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Glossary of Terms

This glossary only refers to unexplained terms, phrases and events that are mentioned in this Website.

For an up-to-date, extensive and excellent glossary, see Walter Goode, Dictionary of Trade Policy Terms, second edition (Adelaide: Centre for International Economic Studies, University of Adelaide, 2001).

Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement), one of the principal agreements reached in the Uruguay Round negotiations, which addresses a set of infringements of private property rights that were said by many multinational enterprises during the preparatory phase to be inhibiting their international trade (marketing) and investment decisions.

"Beggar-my-neighbor policies", the phrase coined in the 1930s by the British economist Joan Robinson to describe the discriminatory trade measures that were widely adopted by governments in the inter-war period.

Brandt Commission, the Independent Commission on International Development Issues, was formed in 1977 and disbanded in 1983. It was chaired by Willy Brandt, a former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and produced two reports: the widely noticed North-South: a Programme for Survival (1980); and the little-noticed Common Crisis: Cooperation for World Recovery (1983). The first report was wide ranging, advocating a variety of measures in favor of developing countries, among them international commodity agreements (à la OPEC), increased financial aid, the transfer of technology to developing countries and preferential access to markets. It also stressed strongly the need to roll back protectionism in developed countries. The commission's composition, its timeliness and, paradoxically, the mixed quality of its analyses stimulated worldwide discussion, leading to the North-South Dialogue and the Cancun Summit.

By contrast, critics of the report emphasized the contribution of private enterprise to the development process, as in Lord McFadzean of Kelvinside et al., Global Strategy for Growth (London: Trade Policy Research Centre, 1981), which prompted one critique to refer to "the old orthodoxy as the new radicalism", and in the measured assessment of David Henderson, "Survival, Development and the Report of the Brandt Commission", in The World Economy, Oxford and Boston, June 1980.

"Built-in agenda" refers to the commitments in the Uruguay Round agreements - signed at Marrakesh in April 1994 - to resume discussions and negotiations in the ensuring five to ten years. Most notably, negotiations on agriculture and services resumed at the beginning of the year 2000, but there are many more mandates.

Cancun Summit, a meeting of 22 heads of government that was held in Cancun, Mexico, in 1981 to consider how to restart the North-South Dialogue. It was held in the favorable climate of the Brandt Commission's first report. Although the summit ended with an apparent consensus, it eventually failed because governments could not reconcile competing approaches, namely government intervention in the market process versus greater reliance on market forces, to promoting economic growth and development.

Fordney-McCumber Act of 1922

GATT rounds, the term that has come to be used to describe the series of multilateral negotiations, the first in 1947 and the latest in 1986-94, on the liberalization of international trade on a most-favored-nation (MFN) basis: They were: the Annecy Conference, 1947; the Torquay Conference, 1948; the Geneva Conference, 1955; the Dillon Round, 1961-62; the Kennedy Round, 1964-67; the Tokyo Round, 1973-79; the Uruguay Round, 1986-94; and now the Doha Round (Doha Development Agenda), 2001-present.

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) entered into force on 1 January 1948 as a provisional agreement in the expectation that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana in 1948 would to lead to the establishment of the International Trade Organization. But the ITO was not approved by the Congress of the United States, obliging the GATT to continue as a provisional agreement until it became a part of the World Trade Organization, which entered into force on 1 January 1995.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

"Globalization" is a catchword that has come to refer to the integration of the world economy through the liberalization of international trade, the freeing of capital movements and technological advances in transport, communications and production processes. The term was used in the 1970s to refer to the "globalization of production" as the international specialization of labor played a bigger and bigger role in international economic integration, with parts and components being made in different locations around the world, wherever costs were lowest, for assembly - usually but not always - in the "home" country. The process accelerated dramatically with the Information Revolution and scared many people who were not able to follow what was happening.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held at Bretton Woods in 1944 (along with the World Bank), to encourage international cooperation on the monetary side of economies by facilitating the expansion of balanced growth of international trade, assisting in correcting balance-of-payments deficits and promoting exchange-rate stability. Cooperation between the IMF and the GATT (the WTO) is covered by the provisions of GATT Article XXVI.

Most-favored-nation treatment, the oldest and most fundamental concepts in commercial diplomacy,

National treatment

"New protectionism", the term that came into vogue in the late 1970s to refer to the use of non-tariff measures to protect domestic industries from foreign competition, the trade-or competition-distorting effect of such practices being hard to detect, prove or quantify. The term highlighted the movement in the 1970s away from the old forms of protection against imports, namely through tariffs and quantitative import restrictions (also called import quotas).

NIEO proposals

Non-tariff Measures refer to government interventions in the market process - other than tariffs - that can be applied in such a way as to discriminate in favor of domestic suppliers against foreign ones, thereby distorting international competition. The term refers to such measures as subsidies, technical standards and public procurement policies, to para-tariff measures - anti-dumping duties, customs-valuation procedures, rules of origin - and also to "voluntary" export- restraint agreements and orderly marketing arrangements (which are also called "grey area measures"). Such measures generally contravene WTO rules when used in a discriminatory manner. Strictly speaking, it is not correct to describe them as barriers to trade, for they cover subsidies, which usually increase exports. Defining them in terms of restrictions alone is also misleading, for they do not refer to customs, practices et cetera that apply to domestic and foreign suppliers alike, even though domestic suppliers may be more familiar with them.

North-South Dialogue was the term applied to the inter-governmental discussions initiated by the Conference on International Economic Cooperation, convened by President Valery Giscard d'Estaing of France in 1975, on economic issues between developed and developing countries, which was concluded in 1977 without achieving any concrete results.

Some use the term to cover the long-running debate that began over differences between developed and developing countries in the early 1960s that lead to the first United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), held in Geneva in 1964, to the formation of the Group of 77 [developing countries] and to the establishment of UNCTAD as a permanent inter-governmental agency.

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), established in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to coordinate and unify production and export policies. Another eight countries joined later and membership is open to countries with a substantial net export of crude petroleum. Its secretariat is located in Vienna.

Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934

"Single undertaking" commitment refers to the requirement that WTO members must adhere to all the agreements it administers, except for four plurilateral agreements, where adherence is optional. Before the WTO was established, contracting parties to the GATT could elect to a large extent which of the codes on non-tariff measures they could observe, other than the GATT itself. At the outset of the Uruguay Round negotiations, governments agreed to them being conducted as a single undertaking, except for the negotiations on trade in services, although towards the end they also became a part of the commitment.

Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, the Tariff Act of 1930 in the United States, was passed at the onset of the Great Depression and is remembered for having raised tariffs to the highest level in U.S. history, provoking retaliation all round the world. The tariff rates specified by this act, like those of its predecessors (going back to the Tariff Act of 1909), were referred to as "autonomous tariffs", which meant they were fixed and could not be reduced through negotiations. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was amended by Cordell Hull's Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934, which launched the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Program that permitted the negotiated reduction of tariffs.

"Stagflation", term coined in the 1970s by the American economist Paul Samuelson to refer to the concurrence of inflation and high unemployment, previously viewed as trade-offs of one another.

United Nations and its agencies

Ways & Means Committee, House of Representatives, United States Congress: one of the most important committees on Washington's Capitol Hill because it initiates legislation on all tax matters, including tariffs - and thus trade.

World Bank is the better-known name of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which was established at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in Bretton Woods in 1944, along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). One of the World Bank's main function is to provide loans to member countries for economic development projects on terms that are not available in private capital markets.

World Trade Organization (WTO), entered into force in 1995 to administer the agreements, decisions and understandings that resulted from the Uruguay Round negotiations of 1986-94, most notably the revised GATT and twelve additional agreements on trade in goods, plus the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), as well as a strengthened dispute-settlement procedure and a trade-policy review mechanism.

WTO Ministerial Conference, the highest decision-making body in the WTO, is required under the Marrakesh Agreement to meet at least once every two years. The idea has been to ensure a greater degree of political direction and control over activities in the WTO system.


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