The sixth round of GATT multilateral trade negotiations, which ran from 1964 to 1967. It is named after U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in recognition of his support for the reformulation of the U.S. trade agenda, which led to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. This law gave the president the broadest bargaining power ever. Most nations have applied the most-favoured-nation principle when setting tariffs, which has largely replaced quotas. Tariffs (which are preferable to quotas but still a barrier to trade) have in turn been steadily reduced in successive rounds of negotiations. On the eve of the round of negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU in September 2007, sixteen countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) oppose the EU`s attempt to remove trade barriers that will open African markets to EU products.
Such a decision would have devastating effects on African industrial capacity and customs revenues. Comesa also draws attention to the absurdity of the EU`s use of a relatively developed country, such as South Africa, as the standard for the African continent`s ability to manage the shortfall. (Inter Press Service) One of the motivations for these standards is the fear that unconditional trade could lead to a „race to the bottom“ in terms of labour and environmental standards, given that multinationals are singing the globe in search of low wages and lax environmental rules in order to reduce costs. Yet there is no empirical evidence of such a breed. In fact, trade usually involves the transfer of technology to developing countries, which makes it possible to increase wage rates, as the Korean economy – among many others – has shown since the 1960s. In addition, increased revenues are allowing cleaner production technologies to become affordable. For example, replacing scooters produced in India with scooters imported from Japan to India would improve air quality in India. The world`s major countries launched GATT in response to the waves of protectionism that crippled world trade during the Great Depression of the 1930s and helped expand it.
In successive rounds of negotiations, GATT has significantly reduced tariff barriers for manufactured goods in industrialized countries. Since the beginning of GATT in 1947, average tariffs in industrialized countries have risen from about 40% to about 5% today. These reductions helped to foster the considerable expansion of world trade after the Second World War and the consequent increase in real per capita income in both developed and developing countries. The annual benefit from the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers resulting from the Uruguay Round Agreement (negotiated under GATT between 1986 and 1993) was estimated at about $96 billion, or 0.4% of world GDP. On 7 October, the second round of negotiations for a far-reaching transatlantic trade agreement will begin in Brussels. Amid calls for greater openness and public participation, the European Commission has gone into propaganda mode and promoted myths about transparency and accountability in discussions. . . .