World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the "only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business."
The WTO, established January 1, 1994, is located in Geneva, Switzerland. It was created by the Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94) and, as of July 27, 2007 has a membership of 151 countries and a Secretariat staff of 550. The WTO budget is 177 million Swiss francs (2007). The current head of the WTO is Pascal Lamy Biodatai (Director-General)..
The functions of the WTO are:
- 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
- Organizational Chart.
- General 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 chairperson is Ambassador Shotaro Oshima (Japan). The General Council also meets, under different rules, as the Dispute Settlement Body and as the Trade Policy Review Body."
- Ministerial Conference: "The topmost decision-making body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference, which has to meet at least every two years. It brings together all members of the WTO, all of which are countries or customs unions. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements."
- Dispute Settlement Body: "The WTO's procedure for resolving trade quarrels under the Dispute Settlement Understanding is vital for enforcing the rules and therefore for ensuring that trade flows smoothly. ... A dispute arises when a member government believes another member government is violating an agreement or a commitment that it has made in the WTO. The authors of these agreements are the member governments themselves -- the agreements are the outcome of negotiations among members. Ultimate responsibility for settling disputes also lies with member governments, through the Dispute Settlement Body." Index of Disputes Issues.
- Trade Policy Review Body.
- The WTO is among the most democratic of the multilateral organizations. It operates on the basis of one country, one vote, and - unlike the UN - no member has the right to a veto. In practice, however, the US, Japan, and the advanced nations of Europe tend to control the agenda and overpower developing nations with skilled trade experts and superior negotiating tactics. While Brazil and China have cultivated expertise of their own, many other developing countries are too poor to afford effective representation at the WTO.—Patrick Smith, Special to The Christian Science Monitor, September 2003.
World Trade Organization
rue de Lausanne 154
CH-1211 Geneva 21
Tel: (41-22) 739 51 11
Fax: (41-22) 731 42 06
Email: enquiries AT wto.org
Related SourceWatch articles
- Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement
- Coalition for Free Trade
- Consumers for World Trade
- Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
- Fair trade
- free trade
- Free Trade Area of Americas
- Funders Network on Trade and Globalization
- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- Middle East Free Trade Area
- National Foreign Trade Council
- Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement
- North American Union
- Timeline to Global Governance 1986 to Present
- Trade Act of 2002
- Trade Agreements
- Trade policy (U.S.)
- Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Truth About Trade
- Truth About Trade and Technology
- U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement
- U.S. - Colombia Free Trade Agreement
- Linnet Deily
Books & Reports
- The World Trade Organisation: An Australian Guide, Global Trade Watch, December 2005.
- The Tyranny of Free Trade Friends of the Earth International, December 2005.
- Sailing Close to the Wind: Navigating the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, December 2005.
- ActionAid - WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Page
- Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network
- Bite Back! WTO: Hands off our Food
- Focus on the Global South - Trade Campaign
- Friends of the Earth International - Trade Campaign
- Gatt.org - Parody of official WTO page by The Yes Men
- Global Exchange
- Globalization Monitor
- Global Trade Watch Public Citizen
- Global Trade Watch (Australia)
- IATP Trade Observatory
- International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
- Our World is Not for Sale Network
- Make Trade Fair - Oxfam International
- Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
- Third World Network
- Transnational Institute: Beyond the WTO
- World Development Movement - Trade Campaign
Articles & Commentary
- Dave Johnson, "Elites Discover So-Called “Free Trade” Is Killing Economy, Middle Class", Campaign for America's Future, April 22, 2014.
- Staff, "Why We Should Oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership", PR Watch, January 24, 2014.
- William Greider, "Whither the WTO," The Nation (Common Dreams), July 27, 2006.
- World Trade Organization, Global Exchange, October 28, 2007.
- Profile: World Trade Organization, BBC, March 29, 2008.