lang="en-US"> World Trade Organization (WTO) - AFAP
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Farhan Ahmed

Understanding of World Trade Organization (WTO)

World Trade Organization is a multi-governmental organization which is established with an aim of regulating trade between nations. It is the only global organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. It was established in 1995 with signatories from 123 countries of the world and it replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff.

The members and observers of WTO has grown to include most of the countries of the world. The WTO has now exceeded 160 members representing 98 per cent of world trade with over 20 countries seeking to join it.

WTO FACTS

The WTO has many roles, it operates a global system of trade rules, it acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, it settles trade disputes between its members and it supports the needs of developing countries. WTO promotes a view that reducing barriers to world trade i.e. protectionist measures will promote economic growth and prosperity.

The primary purpose of WTO is to encourage countries to;

  • Adopt more free trade
  • Remove protectionist measures, barriers against import of goods and services from other countries.
  • Ban the practice of dumping surplus goods at low price in the markets of other countries.

All major decisions are made by the WTO’s member governments: either by ministers (who usually meet at least every two years) or by their ambassadors or delegates (who meet regularly in Geneva).

Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Established: 1 January 1995
Created by: Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94)
Membership: 164 members representing 98 per cent of world trade
Budget: 197 million Swiss francs for 2020
Secretariat staff: 623
Head: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Director-General)

Organization Structure

The WTO’s top decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference. It has a General Council and various other councils and committees, with each council and committee has its own role and elect its own chairperson. However, to ensure a good distribution of appointments over all these bodies, informal consultations are held to produce consensus on slates of chairpersons in three groups: those directly involving the General Council (including, the bodies reporting to the Trade Negotiations Committee); those reporting to the Goods Council; and those reporting to the Services Council.

The General Council is the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, meeting regularly to carry out the functions of the WTO. It has representatives (usually ambassadors or equivalent) from all member governments and has the authority to act on behalf of the ministerial conference which only meets about every two years. The current chair is Ambassador Dacio CASTILLO (Honduras).

The General Council also meets, under different rules, as the Dispute Settlement Body and as the Trade Policy Review Body.

Functions:

  • Administering WTO trade agreements
  • Forum for trade negotiations
  • Handling trade disputes
  • Monitoring national trade policies
  • Technical assistance and training for developing countries
  • Cooperation with other international organizations

The General Council is entrusted with carrying out the functions of the WTO, and taking action necessary to this effect, in the intervals between meetings of the Ministerial Conference, in addition to carrying out the specific tasks assigned to it by the WTO Agreement.

Prepared and Researched by

Farhan Ahmed

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