The GATT's Contribution to Economic Recovery in Post-War Western Europe
NBER Working Paper No. 4944
This paper examines the role of trade liberalization under the auspices of the General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trade (GATT) in promoting economic recovery and growth in Europe in the decade after World War II. The formation of the GATT does not appear to have stimulated a particularly rapid liberalization of world trade in the decade after 1947. It is therefore difficult to attribute much of a role to the GATT in the dramatic economic recovery during the immediate post-war period beyond that of an effective supporting actor. The principal contribution of the GATT during its first decade of operation rests more in securing binding agreements on early tariff reductions, thereby preventing countries from instituting higher tariffs as import quotas and foreign exchange controls were being phased out during the 1950s under the guidance of other international institutions.
Published: Europe's Postwar Recover, Barry Eichengreen, ed., (Cambridge University Press, 1995).