Lecturette: World Trade Organization Introduction: World Trade Organization is an organization that helps the countries to deal fairly and conduct business safely across the international borders. World Trade Organization was established 20 years ago, on 1st January 1995. The main headquarter of the organization is in Geneva, Switzerland. The current director of WTO is Roberto Azevedo.
With the aim to stabilize the international trade, currently 161 nations are its member and 23 observers. The current staff of WTO constitutes 640 members. Seychelles joined the organization this year in April being the 161st member. According to the sources, the WTO member nations count for 96.4% of the total international trade and 96.7% of total global GDP.
Aim and Background
The main purpose of its establishment is the stables free trade for all members. It provides a forum for the countries to have safe agreement on trade where negotiation is safeguarded by WTO. A legal and institutional framework for implementing and monitoring the agreements is also a task of WTO. The birth of WTO was the negotiation among the countries. The predecessor of WTO, GATT (general agreement on terrify and trade) made after World War 2. An initiative of international trade organization also took place, But some members including U.S. on ITO treaty did not approve it leading to its failure. So, GATT was the only body to regulate trade from 1946 to 1995, till the birth of World Trade Organization. Several GATT rounds took place later on as the globalization was increased, it was realized that GATT could not handle the rising global trading challenges and issues. The biggest record negotiation held in 1986 which is known as Uruguay round held in Punta del Este. The round ended creating WTO. Currently, WTO is working on new agreement and negotiation which is known as Doha development agenda which held in Doha, Qatar and started in 2001.
What does it do?
The WTO is run by the government of member countries. It could not work without its secretariat to coordinate its activities. The secretariat consists of the about 600 and its experts who are majorly economists, lawyers, communication experts. The agreement covered by WTO is goods service and intellectual property. They include individual country’s commitment to lower customs tariff and other trade barriers. The agreements are not permanent and packages can be added further. There are several groups in WTO, with highest decision-making authority going to the group, known as ministerial conference which usually meets after every two years. Some main activities of WTO include –
- To monitor and review the trade policies of members
- Maintaining transparency in regional and bilateral trade agreements.
- To settle the disputes among the members emerged from interpretation and application of the agreement.
- To build the capacity of the government of developing countries in international trade matters.
- To conduct economic research and subsequently collecting the data of trade to support other activities of World Trade Organization.
World Trade Organization has simplified the negotiation among the nations making it simple to trade and exchange easily with crystal clear deals and agreements. The developing countries got a lot of support from it and expecting to get more in future.