The World Trade Organization (WTO)

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 124 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. It is the largest international economic organization in the world.

The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants’ adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals. Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.       

Functions of the World Trade Organization

At the heart of the Organization are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. The WTO’s overriding objective is to help trade flow smoothly, frets, fairly, and predictably.

With these objectives in mind, we can state the following six specific functions

(i) It shall facilitate the implementation, administration and operation of the WTO trade agreements, such as multilateral trade agreements, plurilateral trade agreements.

(ii) It shall provide forum for negotiations among its members concerning their multilateral trade relations.

(iii) It shall administer the ‘Understanding on Rules and Procedures’ so as to handle trade disputes.

(iv) It shall monitor national trade policies.

(v) It shall provide technical assistance and training for members of the developing countries.

(vi) It shall cooperate with various international organizations like the IMF and the WB with the aim of achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making.

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