The architects of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), established while much of the world lay in ruins after the Second World War, believed that a prosperous world would be a peaceful one and that liberalizing trade was part of the solution to ending violent conflict forever. The GATT’s core prescriptions – that trade should be open, multilateral, and non-discriminatory – were economic expressions of an idealized international order. Despite widespread belief in the benefits of a liberal global trade regime, the pursuit of ever freer trade has sparked opposition and outrage. What is at the root of resistance to free trade? Who supports free trade and why? What does this mean for the future of the WTO?
Francine McKenzie (PhD Cambridge) is an associate professor in the Department of History and director of the International Relations Program at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests include the history of global trade, the British Empire, postwar reconstruction after the Second World War, and Canada’s international history. She is the author of Redefining the Bonds of Commonwealth 1939-1948: The Politics of Preference (Palgrave MacMillan, 2002) and co-editor of Parties Long Estranged: Canada and Australia in the Twentieth Century (University of British Columbia Press, 2003) and A Global History of Trade and Conflict since 1500 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). She is completing a history of the GATT called The Accidental Organization: GATT and the Fight For Free Trade 1947-1994 and working on an edited collection examining the role of race and racism in Canada’s diplomatic history. In 2012-2013 she was the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard.