Economics for Everyone - Going Global - World Trade Organization (WTO) Part I

Prof. M. Guruprasad, AICAR Business School | Mumbai | August 27, 2014 15:55 IST

The WTO provides a forum for negotiating agreements aimed at reducing obstacles to international trade and ensuring a level playing field for all, thus contributing to economic growth and development.

 
NEWS CONTEXT:
 
India says WTO deal not dead, can sign in Sept if concerns addressed
Indian surprise at WTO; protecting its food subsidies, opposing reform
 
 
India finds itself spectacularly isolated after its veto at the WTO last week and refusal to adopt the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). The TFA had been agreed to last December at the Bali ministerial meeting (WTO). India’s new government’s opposition to this treaty shocked a lot of people across the world. The Trade facilitation agreement encourages all countries to move towards simplifying, streamlining and standardising rules for movement of goods. Why would any country then oppose something as useful as that? July 31 was the deadline and India would not budge.
 
Let us first understand WTO- In this part we will discuss the background, evolution and basic structure of WTO
 
Introduction
 
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on 1 January 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 by providing a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participant's adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments.
 
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. There are a number of ways of looking at the World Trade Organization. It is an organization for trade opening. It is a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements. It is a place for them to settle trade disputes. It operates a system of trade rules. Essentially, the WTO is a place where member governments try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.
 
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on 1 January 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 by providing a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participant's 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 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.
 
At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations. These documents provide the legal ground rules for international commerce. They are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits. Although negotiated and signed by governments, the goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business, while allowing governments to meet social and environmental objectives.
 
The system’s overriding purpose is to help trade flow as freely as possible — so long as there are no undesirable side effects — because this is important for economic development and well-being. That partly means removing obstacles. It also means ensuring that individuals, companies and governments know what the trade rules are around the world, and giving them the confidence that there will be no sudden changes of policy. In other words, the rules have to be ‘transparent’ and predictable.
 
Trade relations often involve conflicting interests. Agreements, including those painstakingly negotiated in the WTO system, often need interpreting. The most harmonious way to settle these differences is through some neutral procedure based on an agreed legal foundation. That is the purpose behind the dispute settlement process written into the WTO agreements.
 
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
 
Established: 1 January 1995
 
Created by: Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-94)  
 
Membership: 160 countries on 26 June 2014
 
Budget: 196 million Swiss francs for 2011
 
Secretariat staff: 640
 

 













Head: Roberto Azevêdo (Director-General)
 
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 WTO’s objective is to help trade flow smoothly, freely, fairly and predictably.
It does this by:
  • Administering trade agreements
  • Acting as a forum for trade negotiations
  • Settling trade disputes
  • Reviewing national trade policies
  • Assisting developing countries in trade policy issues, through technical assistance and training programmes
  • Cooperating with other international organizations
 
 

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