World Trade Organization

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  • Topic: World Trade Organization, International trade, Free trade
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World Trade Organization

Plan of the Essay:

I . History
II. The organization and it’s structure
III. Whose WTO is it anyway?
IV. The WTO Agreements
V. Understanding the WTO
VI. Summary
VII. Sources and bibliography

The essay was prepared by
Siarhei Bayarchuk, 52279
Warsaw, 2012 May

I. History
„... the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organization dealing with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. ” So while the WTO is still young, the multilateral trading system that was originally set up under GATT is well over 50 years old. The past 50 years have seen an exceptional growth in world trade. Merchandise exports grew on average by 6% annually. Total trade in 2000 was 22-times the level of 1950. GATT and the WTO have helped to create a strong and prosperous trading system contributing to unprecedented growth. The system was developed through a series of trade negotiations, or rounds, held under GATT. The first rounds dealt mainly with tariff reductions but later negotiations included other areas such as anti-dumping and non-tariff measures. The last round — the 1986-94 Uruguay Round — led to the WTO’s creation. The negotiations did not end there. Some continued after the end of the Uruguay Round. In February 1997 agreement was reached on telecommunications services, with 69 governments agreeing to wide-ranging liberalization measures that went beyond those agreed in the Uruguay Round. In the same year 40 governments successfully concluded negotiations for tariff-free trade in information technology products, and 70 members concluded a financial services deal covering more than 95% of trade in banking, insurance, securities and financial information. In 2000, new talks started on agriculture and services. These have now been incorporated into a broader agenda launched at the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. The work programme, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), adds negotiations and other work on non-agricultural tariffs, trade and environment, WTO rules such as anti-dumping and subsidies, investment, competition policy, trade facilitation, transparency in government procurement, intellectual property, and a range of issues raised by developing countries as difficulties they face in implementing the present WTO agreements. The deadline for the negotiations is 1 January 2005.

II. The organization and It’s structure

It does this by:
* Administering trade agreements
* Acting as a forum for trade negotiations
* Settling trade disputes
* Reviewing national trade policies
* Assisting developing countries in trade policy issues, through technical assistance and training programmes * Cooperating with other international organizations
Structure  
* The WTO has about 150 members, accounting for about 95% of world trade. Around 30 others are negotiating membership. * Decisions are made by the entire membership. This is typically by consensus. A majority vote is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO, and was extremely rare under the WTO’s predecessor, GATT. The WTO’s agreements have been ratified in all members’ parliaments. * The WTO’s top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conferencewhich meets at least once every two years. * Below this is the General Council (normally ambassadors and heads of delegation in Geneva, but sometimes officials sent from members’ capitals) which meets several times a year in the Geneva headquarters. The General Council also meets as the Trade Policy Review Body and the Dispute Settlement Body. * At the next level, the Goods Council, Services Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council report to the General Council. * Numerous specialized committees, working groups and working partiesdeal with the individual agreements and other areas such as the...
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