1944 - 1947
The Bretton Woods agreements and the GATT
Setting-up of a new international monetary system based on fixed exchange rates with gold and the dollar, and trade liberalization. The economic depression of the 1930s led to a series of devaluations (to promote exports) and protectionist measures (to limit imports) that ultimately worsened the crisis by deterring international trade. The victorious powers of World War II sought to draw lessons from this experience. In 1944, the Bretton Woods agreements set up a fixed exchange rate system based on gold and the dollar, the only currency convertible into gold. Two institutions were created: the International Monetary Fund to ensure the stability of the international monetary system and exchange rates and address countries' external imbalances; the World Bank to help rebuild economies after the war and contribute to development. In 1947, the first Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed, the first in a series of agreements to liberalize international trade.