The WTO in brief
Trade Organization (WTO) is the only
international organization dealing with the global rules of trade between
nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly,
predictably and freely as possible.
1 January 1995
Round negotiations (1986-94)
countries in August 2012
196 million Swiss francs for 2012
staff: more than 600
Pascal Lamy (Director-General)
Objectives of the WTO
preamble to the WTO Agreement, the
parties to the Agreement recognize the objectives they wish to attain through
the multilateral trading system:
a large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand; and
· expand the production of and trade
in, goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world's
resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development.
Agreement also recognizes the need for "positive efforts to ensure that
developing countries, and especially the least-developed among them, secure a
share in the growth in international trade commensurate with … their economic
WTO trade agreements
for trade negotiations
national trade policies
assistance and training for developing countries
with other international organizations
The WTO has 157 members, accounting for over 97% of
world trade. 27 countries
are negotiating membership.
are made by the entire membership. This is typically by consensus. A majority vote
is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO,
and was extremely rare under the WTO’s
predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The
WTO’s agreements have been ratified
in all members’ parliaments.
The WTO’s top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference which meets at least
once every two years.
is the General Council (normally
ambassadors and heads of delegation in Geneva,
but sometimes officials sent from members’ capitals) which meets several times
in the Geneva
headquarters. The General Council also meets as the Trade Policy Review
Body and the Dispute Settlement Body.
At the next
level, the Goods Council, Services
Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council
report to the General Council.
Numerous specialized committees, working groups
and working parties deal with the
individual agreements and other areas such as the environment, development, membership
applications and regional trade agreements.
To find more
information about the WTO please
visit the web-site at www.wto.org.