While THE GATT was a set of rules agreed upon by nations, the WTO is an intergovernmental organization with its own headquarters and staff, whose scope covers both traded goods and trade in the service sector and intellectual property rights. Although used for multilateral agreements, multilateral agreements have led to selective exchanges and fragmentation among members in several rounds of negotiations (particularly the Tokyo Round). WTO agreements are generally a multilateral mechanism for the settlement of GATT agreements.  In addition to facilitating tariff reductions, GATT`s contribution to trade liberalization involves “the commitment of tariff reductions negotiated for a longer period (which became more sustainable in 1955), the definition of the universality of non-discrimination through the treatment of the most favoured nation (MFN) and the status of national treatment, the guarantee of greater transparency of trade measures and the creation of a forum for future negotiations and settlement bilateral disputes. All of these have helped to streamline trade policy and reduce trade barriers and political uncertainty.  To achieve these objectives, GATT planned to sign agreements to significantly reduce tariffs and other trade barriers and eliminate discriminatory treatment in international trade on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefits. The agreement provides for a number of rights and obligations (or codes of conduct) that must be respected by the signatory countries (the parties) as well as mechanisms for resolving the controversy. In particular, the GATT serves as a framework for the organisation of general rounds of negotiations between Member States. Eight such rounds took place and the last, the Uruguay Round, began in September 1986 in Punta del Este (Uruguay). This round culminated in April 1994, after a slow and laborious negotiation process that enabled the United States and the European Union to reach an agreement on agricultural production and trade policy. Although the results of this round have been below the initial objectives, significant progress has been made, taking into account the resurgence of protectionism and trade-distorting practices in recent years, particularly in industrialized countries. It is interesting to note that Colombia clung to the GATT in 1981.
Agriculture has been essentially excluded from previous agreements, as it has been granted special status in the areas of import quotas and export subsidies, with slight reserves. However, at the time of the Uruguay Round, many countries considered the agricultural exception so egregious that they refused to sign a new no-move agreement for agricultural products. These fourteen countries were known as the “Cairns Group” and consisted mainly of small and medium-sized agricultural exporters such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia and New Zealand. The GATT came into force on January 1, 1948. From the beginning, it was refined, which eventually led to the creation, on 1 January 1995, of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which absorbed and expanded it. To date, 125 nations signed its agreements, which covered about 90% of world trade.