How has the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) been a significant influence in the history of the world to the present times?
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a post-World War II effort at eliminating, or at least minimizing, a potential source of future conflict in Europe. By establishing a formal, legal framework in which tariffs and other types of barriers to trade could be amicably -- or, at least, peacefully -- resolved, international trade would cease to be a potential flashpoint that could lead to renewed armed conflict.
GATT established a system by which tariffs could begin to be standardized and lowered, and in which the resolution of trade disputes could be negotiated. In 1994, GATT was absorbed into a broader, farther-reaching international trade dispute resolution mechanism known as the World Trade Organization (WTO). Whereas GATT was oriented toward trade in goods, the WTO also includes under its jurisdiction trade in services, for example, telecommunications and financial services, and jurisdiction over intellectual property rights. The latter remains a very contentious issue between China and the United States, as successive American administrations have failed to eliminate the problem of Chinese counterfeiting and pirating of U.S. goods, including films and music.