At the beginning of the 1980s, it became apparent that the General Agreement was no longer so well adapted to the realities of trade as it had been in the 1950s. The complexity and volume of world trade were now very different from what they had been 40 years earlier. As the globalization of the economy progressed, international investments saw an unprecedented growth, and trade in services - not covered by the GATT rules - began to be a major interest for more and more countries, and was closely bound up with the increase in global trade in goods.
The GATT rules were also deemed inadequate in other ways: in the agriculture sector, for example, where the loopholes in the multilateral system were widely exploited and where attempts at liberalization were essentially in vain - and in the field of textiles and clothing, where an exception to the normal GATT areas of influence had been negotiated in the form of the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA). The institutional structure of the GATT and its system for the settlement of disputes were also becoming sources of concern. All these factors were enough to convince GATT Members that a renewed effort should be made to strengthen and enlarge the multilateral system.