The principle of "most-favoured-nation" appeared in the Anglo-French Cobden-Chevalier Treaty.


The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) was established, initially to oversee Germany's war reparation payments.


The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) was passed in the US transferring tariff-setting policy to the president, substantially increasing the control the government exercised over trade policy until the present day.


Bretton Woods Conference was held giving birth to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, also known as the World Bank).


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was drawn up. First round of multilateral tariff reductions negotiated in Geneva.

Start of the Marshall Plan and the establishment of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation.


Adoption of the International Trade Organization (ITO) charter by the International Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana (although the ITO never came into being).


Second round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations at Annecy.


Third round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations at Torquay.

The Treaty of Paris was signed creating the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC).


The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was born at an Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia.


Fourth round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations at Geneva.


The Treaty of Rome was signed establishing the European Common Market.

The Commission of the European Communities was established.


(until 1961) Fifth round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations also known as the "Dillon Round".


The Organization for European Economic Cooperation becomes the OECD.


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was founded.

The Group of Seventy-Seven (G77) was established. It is the largest grouping of "southern" countries in the United Nations system, although membership now exceeds 130 states.

(until 1967) Sixth round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations, also known as the "Kennedy Round". The first multilateral tariff negotiations round to discuss non-tariff measures albeit unsuccessfully. An anti-dumping code was introduced.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established.


August. The US ended the convertibility of the Dollar into gold precipitating the end of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system.


June. The first global United Nations conference for state officials on the environment took place in Stockholm.

The Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other Matter (the London Convention) was signed.


(until 1979) Seventh round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations, also known as the "Tokyo Round". Six legal codes were introduced to deal with non-tariff barriers.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) was signed.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was officially launched.
(until 1974) The first oil crisis.


Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries was established. The G7 became the G8 when Russian was accorded full membership in 1998.


The European Monetary System was created.

The second oil crisis.


The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources was signed.


August. Mexico announced that it could no longer service its debt, sparking the 1980s debt crisis.


September. Plaza Accord was reached between Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the US on exchange rate realignment.

The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was signed.


(until 1992) Eight round of GATT multilateral tariff negotiations, also known as the "Uruguay Round" which eventually gave birth to the World Trade Organization (WTO).


The World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Brundtland Commission, published the report "Our Common Future". This synthesized and consolidated global debate over environment and development.

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was agreed.


The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping was created.

The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement goes into effect.

The Delors Report was published setting out a plan to introduce European Economic and Monetary Union.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal was signed.


April. Proposal to create a WTO by Canada's trade minister, John Crosbie.


The Global Environmental Facility, jointly managed by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Environment Programme, was established to finance environmental programmes in less developed economies.


February. The Treaty of Maastricht was signed.

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Conference, popularly known as the Rio or Earth Summit, put environment and development on the agendas of global leaders.


The Convention on Biological Diversity came into force.


1 January. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) goes into effect.

15 April. The Final Act embodying the results of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations and establishing the WTO was signed in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea came into force.


1 January. The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence.


July. The exchange rate of the Thai baht was decoupled from the US Dollar and this marked the beginning of what has become known as the Asian (Financial) Crisis.
The Earth Summit+5 (special session of the United Nations General Assembly), the follow-up to the Rio or Earth Summit in 1992, took place.


The Euro becomes a currency.

December. The G-20 group of finance ministers and central bank governors was established to bring together systemically important industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy.


January. WTO Doha Round was initiated.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. It endeavoured to facilitate implementation of the Rio goals agreed 10 years earlier.
Notes and coins of the Euro were introduced.

September. Former Thai Deputy Prime Minister, Supachai Panitchpakdi, began a three-year term as Director-General of the WTO, the first to come from a developing nation.


September. WTO talks in Cancun, Mexico collapsed due to the inability to agree on issues concerning farm subsidies and access to markets.


May. The European Union expanded further with the record-number inclusion of 10 new member-states: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus.


The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change came into force.


April. New Century Financial, an American financial institution that specialised in sub-prime mortgages, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and sold many of its debts to other banks. The sub-prime crisis began to take shape and reverberate around the global financial markets.

August. The European Central Bank injected over 200 billion Euros into the banking market as liquidity dried up in light of spread of the sub-prime crisis. The US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada and the Bank of Japan also began to intervene.

September. Depositors withdrew GBP1bn from Northern Rock, the biggest run on a British bank for more than a century. Northern Rock was eventually nationalized in February 2008.


July. Ministerial talks aimed at resuscitating the Doha Round of WTO talks broke down on ninth day of meeting after the US and India failed to find a compromise on measures intended to help poor countries protect their farmers against import surges.

September. The two largest mortgage lenders in the US, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which accounted for nearly half of the outstanding mortgages in the US, were rescued by the US government in one of the largest bailouts in US history. An USD 85 billion rescue package was also extended to AIG, America’s biggest insurance company. Lehman Brothers, an iconic global investment bank, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and became the first major bank to collapse since the start of the credit crisis. A USD 700 billion rescue plan was proposed to allow the US Treasury to buy bad debts from troubled financial institutions – it was only passed in the House of Representatives on the second vote. Other countries followed suit with similar rescue packages and fiscal stimulus policies.

November. The US Federal Reserve announced it would inject another USD800 billion into the economy to stabilise the financial system and encourage lending. The IMF approved a USD 2.1 billion loan for Iceland, after the country's banking system collapsed in October.


January. The Bank of England cut interest rates to 1.5%, the lowest level in its 315-year history. Official figures for the US jobless rate rose to 7.2% in December, the highest in 16 years. China's exports registered their biggest decline in a decade. Governments continue to adopt a variety of fiscal and monetary measures to stimulate their economies.


April/May. The fear of a possible default on Greece's sovereign debts prompted Eurozone countries and the IMF to approve a 110 billion Euros rescue package.

May. Eurozone countries and IMF agree €110 billion bailout loan for Greece.

July. US passes Dodd-Frank Act, bringing the most significant changes to financial regulation in the US since the regulatory reforms that followed the Great Depression of the 1930s.

November. US Federal Reserve announces a second round of quantitative easing (QE2), a program to purchase $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities.

December. The two-week meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancún, Mexico, end in mid-December with a modest agreement to monitor and verify emissions pledges made under the Copenhagen Accord.


February. Eurozone finance ministers agree to a doubling of the Euro Permanent Rescue Fund to €500 billion.

February. China officially becomes the world’s second-largest economy, overtaking Japan.

March. Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan precipitate steep declines in global stock markets.

May. Portugal agrees terms of €78 billion bailout from the European Union and the IMF.

July. French finance minister Christine Lagarde is appointed Managing Director of the IMF over objections from developing economies at Europe’s continuing monopolization of the position.

August. Stock markets around the world fall precipitously over concerns regarding the health of the eurozone.

August. Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s downgrades the US government’s rating from AAA to AA+

December. 23 members of the European Union (excluding the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, and the UK) agree a new inter-governmental treaty to support the euro.


February. Eurozone finance ministers agree on second rescue package for Greece worth €130 billion first proposed in October 2011. Private creditors forced to accept a 50% write-down of the value of their Greek bonds.

June. Barclays Bank fined by Commodity Futures Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice, and the UK’s Financial Services Authority for its role in manipulation of LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate).

July. Eurozone finance ministers agree on €30 billion loan to Spain to bail out its troubled banks.

September. President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, announces “unlimited” program of bond buying in an attempt to bring down the borrowing costs of eurozone economies in crisis.


March. Cyprus offered a bailout by the EU and the IMF providing its government taxes bank deposits.

May. More than 1100 people die when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapses in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

September. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that it is “extremely likely” that humans are responsible for most global warming.

November. J.P. Morgan Chase agrees to pay a record $US13 billion penalty to settle civil claims from state and federal authorities that it sold mortgage-backed securities that were weaker than advertised.

December. US Federal Reserve announces that it would wind back its program of bond-buying “quantitative easing” in 2014 if the economy continued to recover.


September: Eurozone economies stall again, growing only 0.2% since July

September: Chinese firm Alibaba Group Holding launched the biggest initial public offering in history, worth $25 billion

November: US unemployment falls to 5.7%, lowest rate since the Global Financial Crisis

November: Six major banks agree to pay fines totalling $4.3 billion on charges that they had manipulated foreign exchange rates.

December: Oil prices sink to $60 per barrel, the lowest price since the Global Financial Crisis.


January: Swiss central bank abandons ceiling on value of Swiss franc versus euro.

February: Oil prices drop to $40 per barrel.

April: China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launched.

June: Greece defaults on a $1.7 billion loan repayment to the IMF.

June: China stock markets crash.

July: Greece agrees to creditors’ demands for austerity policies to combat debt crisis.

August: China devalues the yuan, generating instability on global exchange and stock markets.

October: European Central Bank launches aggressive monetary stimulus, pushing yields on large percentage of European government bonds into negative territory.

December: US Federal Reserve raises interest rates for the first time since the Global Financial Crisis.

December: 195 countries at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) agreed to ambitious efforts to prevent global temperature rises in this century from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius.

December: At the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, several key members called for the Doha Round of trade negotiations to be abandoned.


February: Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement signed.

June: The United Kingdom electorate votes in a referendum to exit the European Union

July: Liberia and Afghanistan became the 163rd and 164th members of the WTO

August-September: Politicians in France and Germany call for TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the US to be abandoned.

November: Donald Trump is elected President of the United States.


January: President Trump signs an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership before the agreement is ratified.

January: Amendment to the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) comes into effect, facilitating developing countries’ access to pharmaceuticals.

February: The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement comes into effect.

May: The government of Suriname cancels its loan programme with the IMF, claiming the conditionalities were too much for its citizens to bear.

June: President Trump announces that the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

July: The IMF executive board approves in principle a $1.8 billion Stand-By Arrangement for Greece paving way for distribution of funds that prevent default by Greece on its debts.

December: World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim announces at the One Planet Summit in Paris that the Bank will cease project lending for ‘upstream’ oil and gas projects after 2019


January: Group of 11 Asia-Pacific economies announce that they have reached agreement on a “Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership” to take the place of the original TPP treaty from which the US had withdrawn.

May: Invoking national security concerns, the US imposes tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium from Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. They retaliate by raising tariffs on US goods including agricultural products, bourbon, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

May: the IMF Executive Board endorsed a proposal on the use of the Core Principles for Islamic Finance Regulation, which were developed by the Islamic Financial Services Board with the participation of the Secretariat of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision

June: IMF approves record ($US50 billion) loan to Argentina.

July: WTO Monitoring Report finds new trade restrictions by G20 economies have doubled since previous review period.

October: Canada, Mexico and the United States sign a new trade agreement to replace NAFTA.

November: The annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting, held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, ends without the usual joint statement for the 1st time in its history following acrimonious exchanges between China and the United States.

December: IMF appoints Gita Gopinath as its first female chief economist.


January: The US Justice Department announces criminal charges against the leading Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei Technologies, and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

February: EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement enters into force.

March: The European Commission, the EU's executive body, issues a report calling China "an economic competitor" and a "systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance."

March: UK Parliament for the third time rejects the agreement negotiated by PM Theresa May for Britain to exit the EU.

October: Chile cancels the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting that it was scheduled to host because of street protests. COP25 summit moved to Madrid.

December: UK Parliament accepts bill withdrawing the UK from the European Union

December: US blocks redistribution of voting rights at the IMF

December: COP25 closes in Madrid with no agreement on addressing climate change

December: US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement approved by US House of Representatives.

December: WTO Appellate Body ceases to function because it became inquorate as US blocks replacement appointments.

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