WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (WTO)
Date of Formation: January 1, 1995
Head Office: Geneva,Switzerland
No. of Members: 147 countries (as of 23 April, 2004)
Founders: Countries atUruguayRound Negotiations (1986 – 94)
Budget 2004: 161 Million Swiss Francs
Secretariat Staff: 601
Principal Objective: Promoting International Trade between Nations.
Full-blast Start: 1 January, 2005
The World Trade Organization came into being to promote international trade, minimize trade restrictions and tariffs, and deal with the rules of trade between nations. It helps settle trade disputes between them.
The WTO is the result of Uruguay Round negotiations held from 1986 to 94 under the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The decisions were taken by ministers from various countries attending several conferences. The WTO lays down the principles of free trade with permitted exception and exemptions.
WTO & GATT
As discussed above, GATT gave rise to the WTO. The agreement had covered three areas and was named and referred to separately as below:
1. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT for goods.
2. General Agreement on Trade in Services, GATS
3. Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS.
The above three agreements, GATT, GATS, TRIPs have been unified under the WTO which now covers the following six areas:
3. Intellectual property rights
4. Dispute settlement
5. Trade agreements (Thirty agreements by April, 2004 running to some 30,000 pages)
6. Trade policy reviews.
WTO & Developing Countries
Around three-fourths of the WTO members belong to developing or least developed nations. It has special focus on them and most of the agreements focus on their interests including allowing for longer time periods to achieve the following objectives.
1. To implement agreements and commitments.
2. To adopt measures to enhance their trading opportunities.
3. To build infrastructure to meet the WTO standards.
4. To handle disputes.
5. To achieve technical standards, as ISO 9001, etc.
In 2001 a Ministerial Conference was held inDohato focus attention on issues relating to developing countries. In the conference were created six inter government agencies to help backward countries to increase their ability to trade and access preferential markets. Technical training to developing countries
The WTO organizes 100 technical assistance missions to the developing and underdeveloped nations annually. It arranges about three trade policy regimens each year in Geneva for government officials. Seminars are also held for guiding governments of developing countries to safely transferring from planned and controlled economy to the market economy.