World Trade OrganizationThe World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise andliberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 underthe Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),which commenced in 1948. The organization deals with regulation of trade between participatingcountries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements, and adispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants adherence to WTO agreements whichare signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. Most ofthe issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from theUruguay Round (1986–1994).The organization is currently endeavoring to persist with a trade negotiation called the DohaDevelopment Agenda (or Doha Round), which was launched in 2001 to enhance equitableparticipation of poorer countries which represent a majority of the worlds population. However,the negotiation has been dogged by "disagreement between exporters of agricultural bulkcommodities and countries with large numbers of subsistence farmers on the precise terms of aspecial safeguard measure to protect farmers from surges in imports. At this time, the future ofthe Doha Round is uncertain."The WTO has 153 members, representing more than 97% of the worlds population, and 30observers, most seeking membership. The WTO is governed by a ministerial conference,meeting every two years; a general council, which implements the conferences policy decisionsand is responsible for day-to-day administration; and a director-general, who is appointed by theministerial conference. The WTOs headquarters is at the Centre William Rappard, Geneva,Switzerland.FunctionsAmong the various functions of the WTO, these are regarded by analysts as the most important: It oversees the implementation, administration and operation of the covered agreements. It provides a forum for negotiations and for settling disputes.Additionally, it is the WTOs duty to review and propagate the national trade policies, and toensure the coherence and transparency of trade policies through surveillance in global economicpolicy-making. Another priority of the WTO is the assistance of developing, least-developed andlow-income countries in transition to adjust to WTO rules and disciplines through technicalcooperation and training.The WTO is also a center of economic research and analysis: regular assessments of the globaltrade picture in its annual publications and research reports on specific topics are produced bythe organization. Finally, the WTO cooperates closely with the two other components of theBretton Woods system, the IMF and the World Bank.
International Monetary FundThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an intergovernmental organization that promotesinternational economic cooperation, focusing in particular on policies that have an impact onthe exchange rate and the balance of payments. The organizations stated objectives are topromote international economic cooperation, international trade, employment, and exchange ratestability, including by making resources available to member countries to meet balance ofpayments needs. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C. The IMF’s relatively high influence inworld affairs and development has drawn heavy criticism from some sources.The IMF was conceived on July 22, 1944 originally with 45 members and came into existenceon December 27, 1945 when 29 countries signed the agreement, with a goal to stabilizeexchange rates and assist the reconstruction of the world’s international payment system.Countries contributed to a pool which could be borrowed from, on a temporary basis, bycountries with payment imbalances. The IMF was important when it was first created because ithelped the world stabilize the economic system. The IMF works to improve the economies of itsmember countries. The IMF describes itself as “an organization of 187 countries (as of July2010), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitateinternational trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reducepoverty.”Assistance and reformsThe primary mission of the IMF is to provide financial assistance to countries that experienceserious financial and economic difficulties using funds deposited with the IMF from theinstitution’s 187 member countries. Member states with balance of payments problems, whichoften arise from these difficulties, may request loans to help fill gaps between what countriesearn and/or are able to borrow from other official lenders and what countries must spend tooperate, including covering the cost of importing basic goods and services. In return, countriesare usually required to launch structural adjustment programs (SAPs), which have often beendubbed the Washington Consensus. These reforms are thought to be beneficial to countrieswith fixed exchange rate policies that may engage in fiscal, monetary, and political practices thatmay lead to the crisis itself. For example, nations with severe budget deficits, rampant inflation,strict price controls, or significantly overvalued or undervalued currencies run the risk of facingbalance-of-payment crises. Thus, the structural adjustment programs are at least ostensiblyintended to ensure that the IMF is actually helping to prevent financial crises rather than merelyfunding financial recklessness.Following the recent economic crisis, the IMF has attempted to help emerging economies dealwith large capital outflows.
World BankThe World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developingcountries for capital programmes.The World Banks official goal is the reduction of poverty. By law, all of its decisions must beguided by a commitment to promote foreign investment, international trade and facilitate capitalinvestment.The World Bank differs from the World Bank Group, in that the World Bank comprises only twoinstitutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and theInternational Development Association (IDA), whereas the latter incorporates these two inaddition to three more: International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral InvestmentGuarantee Agency (MIGA), and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes(ICSID).MembersThe International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 187 member countries,while the International Development Association (IDA) has 168 members. Each member state ofIBRD should be also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only members ofIBRD are allowed to join other institutions within the Bank (such as IDA).Poverty reduction strategiesFor the poorest developing countries in the world, the banks assistance plans are basedon poverty reduction strategies; by combining a cross-section of local groups with an extensiveanalysis of the countrys financial and economic situation the World Bank develops a strategypertaining uniquely to the country in question. The government then identifies the countryspriorities and targets for the reduction of poverty, and the World Bank aligns its aid effortscorrespondingly.Forty-five countries pledged US$25.1 billion in "aid for the worlds poorest countries", aid thatgoes to the World Bank International Development Association (IDA) which distributes theloans to eighty poorer countries. While wealthier nations sometimes fund their own aid projects,including those for diseases, and although IDA is the recipient of criticism, Robert B. Zoellick,the president of the World Bank, said when the loans were announced on December 15, 2007,that IDA money "is the core funding that the poorest developing countries rely on"
G-20 major economiesThe Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (G-20, G20, Groupof Twenty) is a group of finance ministers and bank governors from 20 major economies: 19countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the EuropeanCouncil and by the European Central Bank. Their heads of government or heads of state havealso periodically conferred at summits since their initial meeting in 2008. Collectively, the G-20economies comprise more than 80 percent of the worlds GDP, 85 percent of global grossnational product, 80 percent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds ofthe world population. They contribute to 84.1 percent and 82.2 percent of the worlds economicgrowth by nominal GDP and GDP (PPP) respectively from the years 2010 to 2016 accordingto International Monetary Fund (IMF).The G-20 was proposed by former Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin (later, PrimeMinister) for cooperation and consultation on matters pertaining to the international financialsystem. It studies, reviews, and promotes discussion (among key industrial and emerging marketcountries) of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, andseeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization. With the G-20 growing in stature since the 2008 Washington summit, its leaders announced on September25, 2009, that the group will replace the G8 as the main economic council of wealthy nations.The heads of the G-20 nations have met semi-annually at G-20 summits since 2008. The mostrecent was held in Seoul on November 11–12, 2010. Starting in 2011, G-20 summits will be heldannually.OrganizationThe G-20 operates without a permanent secretariat or staff. The chair rotates annually among themembers and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries. The chair is part of arevolving three-member management group of past, present and future chairs referred to asthe Troika. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term,which coordinates the groups work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is toensure continuity in the G-20s work and management across host years. The current chair ofG20 is France; it was handed over from South Korea after the G20 Summit during November2010.
BRICSBRICS is an international political organization of leading emerging economies, arising out ofthe inclusion of South Africa into the BRIC group in 2010. As of 2011, its five membersare Brazil, Russia, India, the Peoples Republic of China and South Africa. With the possibleexception of Russia, the BRICS members are all developing or newly-industrialized countries,but they are distinguished by their large economies and significant influence on regional andglobal affairs.HistoryThe foreign ministers of the four BRIC countries met in New York City in September 2006,beginning a series of high-level meetings. A full-scale diplomatic meeting was held inYekaterinburg, Russia, on May 16, 2008.First summitThe BRIC countries met in Yekaterinburg for their first official summit on 16 June 2009, withLuiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Dmitry Medvedev,Manmohan Singh, and Hu Jintao, the respectiveleaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all attending. The summits focus was on means ofimproving the global economic situation and reforming financial institutions, and discussed howthe four countries could better co-operate in the future. There was furthermore discussion onways that developing countries, such as the BRIC members, could become more involved inglobal affairs.In the aftermath of the Yekaterinburg summit, the BRIC nations announced the need for a newglobal reserve currency, which would have to be diversified, stable and predictable. Althoughthe statement that was released did not directly criticise the perceived dominance of the US -something which Russia had attacked in the past - it still led to a fall in the value of the dollaragainst other major currencies.Entry of South AfricaIn 2010, South Africa began efforts to join the BRIC grouping, and the process for its formaladmission began in August of that year. South Africa officially became a member nation onDecember 24, 2010, after being formally invited by China and the other BRIC countries to jointhe group. The group was renamed BRICS - with the "S" standing for South Africa - to reflectthe groups expanded membership. In April 2011, South African President Jacob Zuma attendedthe 2011 BRICS summit in Sanya, China, as a full member. With the accession of South Africa,the five BRICS countries came to represent roughly one-third of the worlds population, holdingan estimated US$4 trillion in foreign reserves.