The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was signed in 1947, which is a multilateral agreement regulating trade among 150 countries (Eliza, 1992). According to its preface the purpose of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is the “similar tariffs reduction and other elimination of preferences and trade barriers on a reciprocal and mutually in an advantageous basis.”
The GATT functions de facto as an organization, by conducting 8 talk rounds addressing the different issues of trade and resolving the disputes of international trade. After seven years of negotiations the Uruguay Round, was finished on December 15, 1993, which resulted in an agreement among 117 countries to decrease the barriers of trade and to create more enforceable and comprehensive rules of world trade (Mitchell, 1994). The agreement comes out of this round, in which the Final Act Embody the Results of the Uruguay Round of Negotiations of Multilateral Trade that was signed in April 1994. The Uruguay Round agreement was implemented and approved by the United States Congress in December 1994, and it was released into effect on January 1, 1995.
It is wrong to say that the GATT has mandated any restrictions on the member’s right to make a law of their own on the patenting of new plant variety. On the contrary members are left free to make their own laws subject only to one condition that they shall not show any discrimination as between citizens of their own and those of other countries. In countries where agricultural operations are carried on in the large scale as an industry on farms and plantations that are huge and expensive the law made to suit the requirements of those countries cannot be adopted where the holdings are microscopic in size and the households depending on agriculture are numerous. Having regard to the peculiar characteristics which are traditional to certain developing countries agricultural base is the foundation of their economy, it must be assumed that the GATT has deliberately left the choice of making law on plant patents to members themselves to suit their domestic requirements.
GATT represents a codification of the post war effort to achieve a liberal multilateral trading environment (Pierre W J, 1994). Under this interpretation GATT is simply an explicit record of how countries attempt to liberalize trade in a way that is self enforcing and GATT’s existence plays no independent role in making the liberalization possible. At a minimum GATT probably serves a co-ordination function providing countries with a forum for communication and a means for seeking out and implementing efficient equilibrium. Beyond that there is some evidence GATT legal precedent often affects GATT deliberations and the outcomes of dispute settlement procedures. It is possible that the occurrence of dispute settlement procedure in GATT instills in countries as a sense of international obligation. GATT may serve a possible information dissemination role either in providing objective information to countries directly involved in a dispute or in coordinating multilateral punishments.
- Eliza (1992), “GATT and the Environment” ,Journal of World Trade, London
- Mitchell (1994), “Free Trade, Human Rights Clash over GATT”, SAGE, London
- Pierre W J (1994), Handbook of GATT Dispute Settlement, Transnational Juries Publication, New Jersey