The Gatt's Contribution to Economic Recovery in Post-War Western Europe

40 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2000 Last revised: 28 Jul 2010

See all articles by Douglas A. Irwin

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 1994


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.

Suggested Citation

Irwin, Douglas A., The Gatt's Contribution to Economic Recovery in Post-War Western Europe (December 1994). NBER Working Paper No. w4944. Available at SSRN:

Douglas A. Irwin (Contact Author)

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