Case | HBS Case Collection | February 1998

Creating the International Trade Organization

by David A. Moss, George R. Appling and Andrew D Archer


In the late 1940s, officials at the U.S. State Department began campaigning for the creation of an International Trade Organization (ITO). This new organization would oversee global negotiations on trade liberalization, foreign direct investment, cartels, and commodity agreements; and it would complement the IMF and the World Bank, both of which were founded at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 to address international financial flows. Together, the IMF, the World Bank, and the ITO would comprise a comprehensive system for the management of international economic affairs. As it turned out, however, the proposed ITO proved extremely controversial both within the United States and around the world. When President Truman finally sent the ITO Charter to Congress in 1949, lawmakers there had to decide whether to endorse this product of three years of intense international negotiations or simply to let it die an unceremonious death in Washington, D.C.

Keywords: Mission and Purpose; Trade; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Policy; Globalized Economies and Regions; Agreements and Arrangements; Foreign Direct Investment; Economic Systems; International Relations;


Moss, David A., George R. Appling, and Andrew D Archer. "Creating the International Trade Organization." Harvard Business School Case 798-057, February 1998.