ID Number: 620033630
Name: Matthew Thomas
Lecturer: Sheldon Barnes
Date of Submission: 7/9/2012
What are in your view the main principles governing international trade policy in the context of the WTO and which would be the main provisions in which you find these principles reflected in the WTO agreements? Please elaborate
Formed in 1995 to replace its predecessor the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), under the Treaty of Marrakech, The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organization that deals and treats with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. The goal of the WTO is to aid and facilitate producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. At its core are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by a majority of the world’s trading nations and approved within their respective parliaments. These principles aid in the efficient government of international trade policy ensuring that all signatories adhere to the contract they are bind to, by this governments are now required to create national trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about present laws in actions and measures implemented, and through regular reports by the secretariat on countries’ trade policies. The WTO agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They explain the principles of liberalisation, as well as the allowed exceptions. They include individual countries’ commitments to lower customs tariffs and other trade barriers, and to open and maintain open services markets. The agreements set procedures for settling disputes; prescribe special treatment for developing countries. The agreements of the WTO are detailed and intricate as they are legal texts that facilitate a wide range of activities such as: agriculture, clothing and textiles, banking and finance, telecommunications, government purchases, industrial standards and product safety, food sanitation regulations, intellectual property, among others. A number of simple, fundamental principles run throughout all of these documents. These principles exist as the foundation of the international multilateral trading system. Given that the core of the WTO, especially leading out of the Doha Round of Trade Negotiations [2001- present], is to focus and adjust the concerns that are faced by developing nations; the main principles within the context of the WTO that validate international trade policy are: i) Trade without discrimination ii) Freer Trade iii) Promotion of fair competition v) Development and economic reform. These principles of international trade within the legislation of the WTO can be reflected in trade agreements drafted by the organisation. The principle of “Trade without discrimination” has two key underlying principles: Most Favoured Nation [MFN] and National Treatment [NT]. The MFN, in essence is simply treating other people equally. As legislated by WTO agreements, countries are prohibited from discrimination between their trading partners. Wherein one country is restricted from granting a particular country a special favour e.g. such as a lower customs duty rate for one of their products and this favour is not extended to all the other members of the WTO. This principle is known as Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment. The first article of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) , which is the governing legislation for the trade in goods, this article speaks to prohibition of member nations to discriminate between “like” products originating from other member nations. In Article I of the GATT it states “any advantage, favour, privilege or immunity granted by any contracting party to any product originating in or destined for any other country shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the...