World Trade Organization (WTO)

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The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the sole international organization dealing with

multilaterally agreed rules on trade among its member countries. Through WTO agreement, which spell out rights and obligations, member countries operate a nondiscriminatory multilateral trading system that has allowed world trade to grow. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, and exporters and importers, conduct their business in a manner that ensures predictability and stability.

(World Trade Organization 2001)

This paper is intended to provide an understanding of the WTO system and its implications to government policies and international business. It is hoped that the business community will take a keen interest on WTO issues and reap the benefits from the rules and disciplines as well as the market access opportunities created under the WTO. (World Trade Organization 2001)


2.1 The Origin, Role and Functions of the WTO

The WTO was established on 1 January 1995.

The WTO's headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. It currently has 144 members. The WTO replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) following the conclusion of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations in 1994. The WTO is an international organization that administers multilateral agreements pertaining to trade in goods (GATT), trade in services (GATS), and trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs).

(Hoekman & Kostecki 1995)

The supreme body of the WTO is the Ministerial Conference which is held at least once in every two years. It comprises representatives of all members and functions to oversee the implementation of members' obligations as well as to negotiate new agreements. The day-to-day business of the WTO is conducted under the supervision of the General Council (GC) which comprises representatives of all members to the WTO who are usually of Ambassadorial level...