Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: GATT

Quick Summary of GATT

A trade agreement between a large number of countries, dating back to 1948, which was set up to improve trading world wide and to work towards the reduction of tariff barriers.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is a legal agreement between many countries, whose overall purpose was to promote international trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs or quotas.

What is the dictionary definition of GATT?

Dictionary Definition

a United Nations agency created by a multinational treaty to promote trade by the reduction of tariffs and import quotas.

A comprehensive free-trade treaty signed in 1947 by 117 nations, including almost every developed country. The goal of GATT has been to promote global economic growth by encouraging and regulating world trade. Among other things, member countries are required to treat all other member countries equally in the application of import and export tariffs, offer basic copyright protection to authors from member countries, consult with each other about trade matters and attempt to resolve differences in a peaceful manner. GATT created an international regulatory body known as the World Trade Organization (WTO) to enforce compliance with the agreement.

Full Definition of GATT

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was reached in 1947 where 23 nations agreed to provide equal, nonjudgmental treatment to each other.

The GATT, or General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is a global NGO or non-governmental organisation set up with the purpose of increasing trade between different countries.

It seeks to reduce tariffs, duties, and other protectionist trading measures, thereby making it easier for member states to trade with each other. It has therefore been a key driver of trade, globalization, and FDI.

It requires a consensus to be formed between all member states before it can formalize agreements, which then need to be enacted by member-states within their own jurisdictions.

Past agreements are believed to have added trillions of dollars to the GDP of the world economy.

Criticisms Of GATT

Because of its consensus-based approach, GATT has been criticized as a cumbersome body. In effect, any one country can exercise a veto on collective decision-making.

GATT discussions, and in particular the past Doha round of talks, have been criticized for exposing divides between rich and poor countries. Some critics feel that GATT has been used historically by developed economies to gain access to emerging markets without giving enough back in return.

With the growing economic power of some of those countries, particularly the BRIC economies, it is becoming harder to reach agreements that can be supported by all participants.

Synonyms For GATT

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
GATT. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 25, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
GATT. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 25, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
GATT. Retrieved September 25, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for GATT are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 6th August, 2021 | 7 Views.