World Trade: The Linear Approach

Geneva's staid old lakefront hotels looked like Chicago during a political convention last week. In crowded bars and smoke-filled rooms, politicians hammered out compromises, lined up voting blocs, and kept ears to the ground for reaction from the folks back home. The occasion: the 19th semiannual meeting of the 39 nations that are parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which has as its aim worldwide liberalization of trade.

The U.S., which had 40 negotiators working in relays, dickered for lower duties abroad on U.S. tobacco, foodstuffs and autos. Indian officials haggled over jute, Uruguayans over wheat and...

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