World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.The organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing 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. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986–1994).

The organization is attempting to complete negotiations on the Doha Development Round, which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on addressing the needs of developing countries. As of June 2012, the future of the Doha Round remains uncertain: the work programme lists 21 subjects in which the original deadline of 1 January 2005 was missed, and the round is still incomplete. The conflict between free trade on industrial goods and services but retention of protectionism on farm subsidies to domestic agricultural sector (requested by developed countries) and the substantiation of the international liberalization of fair trade on agricultural products (requested by developing countries) remain the major obstacles. These points of contention have hindered any progress to launch new WTO negotiations beyond the Doha Development Round. As a result of this impasse, there has been an increasing number of bilateral free trade agreements signed.

WTO's current Director-General is Pascal Lamy, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland.

Read more about World Trade OrganizationHistory, Functions, Principles of The Trading System, Organizational Structure, Decision-making, Dispute Settlement, Accession and Membership, Agreements, Directors-General

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