In its early days, the international trade regime that the United States and its allies created after World War II counted relatively few less-developed countries as members. For the first few decades, developing country members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor to the World Trade Organization, remained mostly small in economic size, unimportant in trade and participated little in multilateral trade negotiations. In the 1960s and 1970s, developed countries unilaterally extended preferential market access to poorer countries to spur economic growth and development. As the “newly industrializing countries” of Asia, followed by Brazil, India, Mexico, South Africa and others, succeeded in growing faster and becoming bigger exporters, conflicts grew over the appropriate scope of “preferential and different treatment” for developing countries.
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