Developing countries and other less powerful participants are more likely to influence the multilateral system in a trade cycle than in bilateral relations with major trade nations. Canada has also developed its own share of import restrictions on cereals and dairy products and poultry products, as well as export subsidies for certain dairy products and eggs to eliminate surpluses. As a result, early exclusions and GATT exemptions have led to a maze of restrictions on agricultural imports and export subsidies that have since plagued world production and trade in these production lines (see protectionism). A common market is the first step towards a single market and may, initially, be limited to a free trade area. Quantitative import and export subsidies were generally prohibited by the GATT, but exemptions were permitted in certain circumstances. The two main exceptions for Canada were macro-financial assistance and agricultural regimes. These latter products have been excluded from the GATT trade liberalization framework, mainly due to the insistence of the United States. Canada and other major exporters of agricultural products have strongly opposed the absence (see agriculture and food). Canada also opposed the special waiver that the United States received in 1955 to limit imports of dairy products when it did not have national controls on production. Subsequently, after many controversies, Germany and Switzerland obtained other exceptions to limit agricultural imports. Following the UK`s vote to leave the European Union, proponents of leaving the European Union proposed that Article 24, paragraph 5B of the treaty could be used to maintain a “stalemate” in trade conditions between the UK and the EU if the UK left the EU without a trade deal, thereby preventing the imposition of tariffs. Proponents of this approach believe that it could be used to implement an interim agreement until a final agreement of up to ten years is negotiated.  The goal of the GATT was to eliminate harmful trade protectionism.
Trade protectionism probably contributed to the 66% reduction in world trade during the Great Depression. The GATT helped restore the world`s economic health after the ravages of depression and World War II.