World Trade Organisation

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.[5]The organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments[6]:fol.9-10 and ratified by their parliaments.[7] Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986–1994). The organization is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on addressing the needs of developing countries. As of June 2012[update], the future of the Doha Round remains uncertain: the work programme lists 21 subjects in which the original deadline of 1 January 2005 was missed, and the round is still incomplete.[8] The conflict between free trade on industrial goods and services but retention of protectionism on farm subsidies to domestic agricultural sector (requested by developed countries) and the substantiation of the international liberalization of fair trade on agricultural products (requested by developing countries) remain the major obstacles. These points of contention have hindered any progress to launch new WTO negotiations beyond the Doha Development Round. As a result of this impasse, there has been an increasing number of bilateral free trade agreements signed.[9] WTO's current Director-General is Pascal Lamy, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland.

History

The economists Harry White (left) and John Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods Conference. Both had been strong advocates of a liberal international trade environment and recommended the establishment of three institutions: the IMF (for fiscal and monetary issues); the World Bank (for financial and structural issues); and the ITO (for international economic cooperation).[10] The WTO's predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was established after World War II in the wake of other new multilateral institutions dedicated to international economic cooperation — notably the Bretton Woods institutions known as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A comparable international institution for trade, named the International Trade Organization was successfully negotiated. The ITO was to be a United Nations specialized agency and would address not only trade barriers but other issues indirectly related to trade, including employment, investment, restrictive business practices, and commodity agreements. But the ITO treaty was not approved by the U.S. and a few other signatories and never went into effect.[11][12][13] In the absence of an international organization for trade, the GATT would over the years "transform itself" into a de facto international organization.[14] [edit] GATT rounds of negotiations

See also: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
The GATT was the only multilateral instrument governing international trade from 1946 until the WTO was established on January 1, 1995.[15] Despite attempts in the mid 1950s and 1960s to create some form of institutional mechanism for international trade, the GATT continued to operate for almost half a century as a semi-institutionalized multilateral treaty regime on a provisional basis.[16] [edit] From Geneva to Tokyo

Seven rounds of negotiations occurred under GATT. The first real GATT trade rounds concentrated on further reducing tariffs. Then, the Kennedy Round in the mid-sixties brought about a GATT anti-dumping Agreement and a section on development. The Tokyo Round during the seventies was the first major...
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