World Trade Organization Essay

5012 words - 21 pages

[pic]World Trade Organization

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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 ...view middle of the document...

The WTO's predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), was established after World War II in the wake of other new multilateral institutions dedicated to international economic cooperation — notably the Bretton Woods institutions known as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A comparable international institution for trade, named the International Trade Organization was successfully negotiated. The ITO was to be a United Nations specialized agency and would address not only trade barriers but other issues indirectly related to trade, including employment, investment, restrictive business practices, and commodity agreements. But the ITO treaty was not approved by the U.S. and a few other signatories and never went into effect.

In the absence of an international organization for trade, the GATT would over the years "transform itself" into a de facto international organization.

GATT rounds of negotiations

The GATT was the only multilateral instrument governing international trade from 1945 until the WTO was established in 1995.[14] Despite attempts in the mid 1950s and 1960s to create some form of institutional mechanism for international trade, the GATT continued to operate for almost half a century as a semi-institutionalized multilateral treaty regime on a provisional basis.

From Genève to Tokyo

Seven rounds of negotiations occurred under GATT. The first real GATT trade rounds concentrated on further reducing tariffs. Then, the Kennedy Round in the mid-sixties brought about a GATT anti-dumping Agreement and a section on development. The Tokyo Round during the seventies was the first major attempt to tackle trade barriers that do not take the form of tariffs, and to improve the system, adopting a series of agreements on non-tariff barriers, which in some cases interpreted existing GATT rules, and in others broke entirely new ground. Because these plurilateral agreements were not accepted by the full GATT membership, they were often informally called "codes". Several of these codes were amended in the Uruguay Round, and turned into multilateral commitments accepted by all WTO members. Only four remained plurilateral (those on government procurement, bovine meat, civil aircraft and dairy products), but in 1997 WTO members agreed to terminate the bovine meat and dairy agreements, leaving only two.

Uruguay Round [pic]

During the Doha Round, the US government blamed Brazil and India for being inflexible, and the EU for impeding agricultural imports. The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, responded to the criticisms by arguing that progress would only be achieved if the richest countries (especially the US and countries in the EU) make deeper cuts in their agricultural subsidies, and further open their markets for agricultural goods.

Well before GATT's 40th anniversary, its members concluded that the GATT system was straining to adapt to a new globalizing world economy. In...

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