The World Trade Organization

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UNDERSTANDING THE WTO

The WTO was established on January 1, 1995 in Geneva, Switzerland. It was created by Uruguay Round negotiations (1986–94) and is formed of 146 members (on April 2003). Supachai Panitchpakdi is the current director general of the organization. Its main functions include (i) Administering WTO trade agreements, (ii) Forum for trade negotiations, (iii) Handling trade disputes, (iv) Monitoring national trade policies (v) Technical assistance and training for developing countries , (vi)Cooperation with other international organizations.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the rules of trade between nations at a global or near-global level. But there is more to it than that. It’s an organization for liberalizing trade. It’s a forum where governments negotiate trade agreements. It’s a place for them to settle trade disputes. It operates a system of trade rules.

Essentially, the WTO is a place where member governments go, to try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other. The first step is to talk. The WTO was born out of negotiations, and everything the WTO does is the result of negotiations. The bulk of the WTO’s current work comes from the 1986–94 negotiations called the Uruguay Round and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The WTO is not just about liberalizing trade, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.

Although WTO was established on 1995, its trading system is half a century older. Since 1948, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had provided the rules for the system .It did not take long for the General Agreement to give birth to an unofficial, de facto international organization, also known informally as GATT. Over the years GATT evolved through several rounds of negotiations. The last and largest GATT round, was the Uruguay Round which...
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