The GATT, created more than a year before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a Western military alliance, played an important role in the Cold War that began shortly after World War II. It helped the US-led capitalist West spread its influence by liberalizing trade through multilateral agreements. The West, with which Canada was allied, gained more economic allies through these agreements, which strengthened its global influence over the Soviet-led eastern communist bloc. After the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, gatt transformed into a truly global organisation – the WTO – and welcomed former communist countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania. This agreement also gave rise to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which was created on 1 January 1995. . .