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 their agreements, which covered about 90% of world trade. all agreements and agreements concluded under the Uruguay Round. While the GATT was formally concluded at the end of the Uruguay Round on 15 April 1994 and the WTO came into force on 1 January 1995, THE GATT remained the WTO Framework Agreement on Trade in Goods. Nations wishing to become members of the WTO must first conclude negotiations for the accession of GATT members. As of July 2016, 164 countries were WTO members and 21 observers (in the accession process). Created more than a year before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a Western military alliance, GATT played an important role in the Cold War that began shortly after World War II. It has helped the U.S.-led capitalist West spread its influence by liberalizing trade through multilateral agreements. The West, with which Canada was linked, gained more economic allies through these agreements, which strengthened its global influence over the Soviet-led Eastern Communist bloc. After the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, THE GATT became a true world organization – the WTO – and it was accepted that former communist countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania were admitted. Some exceptions to the MFN principle were permitted and Canada was favoured by many of them. In 1965, the United States obtained a waiver from the MFN rules for membership in the AutoMotive Products Agreement (Auto Pact).

Canada did not need a waiver because it allowed companies in each country to participate, provided they complied with the rules. Like other industrialized countries, Canada has obtained exemptions to grant tariff preferences to developing countries for a number of products under the generalized preference system.