What is the WTO? <ul><li>The World Trade Organization ( WTO ) is an international organization designed by its founders to supervise and liberalize international trade. </li></ul><ul><li>The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1947. </li></ul>
What is the WTO? <ul><li>The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. </li></ul><ul><li>At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. </li></ul>
WTO BRIEF HISTORY The WTO's predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trad e (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.
Important Functions of WTO <ul><li>It oversees the implementation, administration and operation of the covered agreements. </li></ul><ul><li>It provides a forum for negotiations and for settling disputes. </li></ul><ul><li>Additionally, it is the WTO's duty to review and propagate the national trade policies, and to ensure the coherence and transparency of trade policies through surveillance in global economic policy-making. </li></ul><ul><li>Another priority of the WTO is the assistance of developing, least-developed and low-income countries in transition to adjust to WTO rules and disciplines through technical cooperation and training. [ </li></ul><ul><li>The WTO is also a center of economic research and analysis: regular assessments of the global trade picture in its annual publications and research reports on specific topics are produced by the organization. </li></ul><ul><li>Finally, the WTO cooperates closely with the two other components of the Bretton Woods system, the IMF and the World Bank. </li></ul>
WTO BRIEF HISTORY 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 United States and a few other signatories and never went into effect.
WTO BRIEF HISTORY In the absence of an international organization for trade, the GATT would over the years "transform itself" into a de facto international organization. The GATT was the only multilateral instrument governing international trade from 1948 until the WTO was established in 1995.
GATT rounds of negotiations <ul><li>Seven rounds of negotiations occurred under the GATT. The first GATT trade rounds concentrated on further reducing tariffs. </li></ul><ul><li>Then, the Kennedy Round in the mid-sixties brought about a GATT anti-dumping Agreement and a section on development. </li></ul><ul><li>The Tokyo Round during the seventies was the first major attempt to tackle trade barriers that do not take the form of tariffs, and to improve the system, adopting a series of agreements on non-tariff barriers, which in some cases interpreted existing GATT rules, and in others broke entirely new ground. </li></ul>
GATT rounds of negotiations <ul><li>Uruguay Round </li></ul><ul><li>The eighth GATT round — known as the Uruguay Round — was launched in September 1986, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. </li></ul><ul><li>It was the biggest negotiating mandate on trade ever agreed: the talks were going to extend the trading system into several new areas, notably trade in services and intellectual property, and to reform trade in the sensitive sectors of agriculture and textiles; all the original GATT articles were up for review. </li></ul>
THE ORGANIZATION <ul><li>THE OBJECTIVES: </li></ul><ul><li>The WTO’s overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably. </li></ul><ul><li>It does this by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Administering trade agreements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Acting as a forum for trade negotiations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Settling trade disputes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reviewing national trade policies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assisting developing countries in trade policy issues, through technical assistance and training programmes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cooperating with other international organizations </li></ul></ul>
Structure The WTO has 153 members, accounting for over 97% of world trade. 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.
Structure The WTO’s top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference which 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 parties deal with the individual agreements and other areas such as the environment, development, membership applications and regional trade agreements.
Secretariat <ul><li>The WTO Secretariat, based in Geneva, has around 625 staff and is headed by a director-general. </li></ul><ul><li>Its annual budget is roughly 189 million Swiss francs. </li></ul><ul><li>It does not have branch offices outside Geneva. </li></ul><ul><li>Since decisions are taken by the members themselves, the Secretariat does not have the decision-making role that other international bureaucracies are given. </li></ul>
Secretariat <ul><li>The Secretariat’s main duties are to supply technical support for the various councils and committees and the ministerial conferences, to provide technical assistance for developing countries, to analyze world trade, and to explain WTO affairs to the public and media. </li></ul><ul><li>The Secretariat also provides some forms of legal assistance in the dispute settlement process and advises governments wishing to become members of the WTO. </li></ul>
Principles of the trading system <ul><li>Five principles are of particular importance in understanding both the pre-1994 GATT and the WTO. </li></ul><ul><li>Non-Discrimination . </li></ul><ul><li>It has two major components: the most favoured nation (MFN) rule, and the national treatment policy. </li></ul><ul><li>The MFN rule requires that a WTO member must apply the same conditions on all trade with other WTO members. </li></ul><ul><li>National treatment means that imported goods should be treated no less favorably than domestically-produced goods (at least after the foreign goods have entered the market) and was introduced to tackle non-tariff barriers to trade (e.g. technical standards, security standards et al. discriminating against imported goods). </li></ul>
Principles of the trading system <ul><li>Reciprocity . It reflects both a desire to limit the scope of free-riding that may arise because of the MFN rule, and a desire to obtain better access to foreign markets. </li></ul><ul><li>Binding and enforceable commitments . The tariff commitments made by WTO members in a multilateral trade negotiation and on accession are enumerated in a schedule (list) of concessions. These schedules establish "ceiling bindings": a country can change its bindings, but only after negotiating with its trading partners, which could mean compensating them for loss of trade. If satisfaction is not obtained, the complaining country may invoke the WTO dispute settlement procedures. </li></ul>
Principles of the trading system <ul><li>Transparency . The WTO members are required to publish their trade regulations, to maintain institutions allowing for the review of administrative decisions affecting trade, to respond to requests for information by other members, and to notify changes in trade policies to the WTO. </li></ul><ul><li>Safety valves . In specific circumstances, governments are able to restrict trade. </li></ul>