Julio Lacarte-Muró, 'dean' of GATT, dies at 97

by World Grain Staff
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Julio Lacarte-Muró, WTO
Julio Lacarte-Muró

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — Julio Lacarte-Muró, who was involved with the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT)/WTO trading system since its inception,  died March 4. He was 97.

“He was a remarkable man, diplomat, and adjudicator, with a unique place in the history of global trade cooperation,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. “He will be very much missed in the trade community. My thoughts and sympathies are with his friends and family.”

Lacarte-Muró took part in the first session in 1946 of the Preparatory Committee tasked with drawing up a charter for the proposed International Trade Organization (ITO), and participated in the 1947 Havana Conference. The ITO never came into being, but it was substituted by the GATT, which provided the rules for much of world trade for the following 50 years.

He served as deputy executive secretary of the GATT in 1947-48. He returned to the GATT as Uruguay's Permanent Representative in 1961-66 and 1982-92, during which periods he served as chairman of the council, the Contracting Parties and the Uruguay Round negotiating groups on dispute settlement and institutional questions.

He helped launch the Uruguay Round, which eventually led to the establishment of the WTO in 1995. He was selected as the first chairman of the WTO Appellate Body. He also served as the deputy director of the International Trade and Balance-of-Payments Division of the United Nations and as the director of Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries of UNCTAD. He was also Uruguay's Ambassador to several countries, including the European Communities, India, Japan, the U.S. and Thailand.

Lacarte- Muró was a professor at the International Association of Comparative Law and at the University of Comparative Law at Strasbourg University.

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