The WTO began life on 1 January 1995, but 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. (The second WTO ministerial meeting, held in Geneva in May 1998, included a celebration of the 50th anniversary of 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 lasted from 1986 to 1994 and led to the WTO’s creation. Whereas GATT had mainly dealt with trade in goods, the WTO and its agreements now cover trade in services, and in traded inventions, creations and designs (intellectual property).
WTO's main activities:
— negotiating the reduction or elimination of obstacles to trade (import tariffs, other barriers to trade) and agreeing on rules governing the conduct of international trade (e.g. antidumping, subsidies, product standards, etc.) — administering and monitoring the application of the WTO's agreed rules for trade in goods, trade in services, and trade-related intellectual property rights — monitoring and reviewing the trade policies of our members, as well as ensuring transparency of regional and bilateral trade agreements — settling disputes among our members regarding the interpretation and application of the agreements — building capacity of developing country government officials in international trade matters — assisting the process of accession of some 30 countries who are not yet members of the organization — conducting economic research and collecting and disseminating trade data in support of the WTO's other main activities — explaining to and educating the public about the WTO, its mission and its activities. Principles of the trading system
The WTO establishes a framework for trade policies; it does not...