Tariff Preferences as an Issue in International Relations

  • Alfred Tovias
Part of the Trade Policy Research Centre book series


Britain was said, by a nineteenth century wit, to have acquired the British Empire in a fit of absent-mindedness. That appears to have been how the European Community acquired its array of preferential trade agreements with countries extending from Africa and the Mediterranean to the Caribbean and the Pacific. Little regard was paid, when they were being negotiated, to the cumulative impact the agreements would have on the credibility of the multilateral trading system, institutionalised in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Yet it was through the principles and rules of the GATT, and through successive rounds of multilateral tariff-cutting negotiations within the GATT framework, that orderly conditions in the conduct of international trade had been restored after World War II and following, more to the point, the autarchic and discriminatory policies which resulted from the protectionist excesses of the 1930s.1 The return of prosperity and security to Western Europe owed a great deal to the restoration of orderly conditions in international trade and payments. Without it, the formation of the European Community might not have been possible.


Free Trade Custom Union Contracting Parti Free Trade Area Preferential Trade Agreement 


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Notes and References

  1. 5.
    Hugh Corbet, Raw Materials: Beyond the Rhetoric of Commodity Power, International Issues No. 1 (London: Trade Policy Research Centre, 1975 ) p. 6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alfred Tovias and the Trade Policy Research Centre 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Tovias

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