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World Trade Organisation

Green Members are WTO members, blue are observers, and light green are also members of the EU.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established in 1995 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with the aim of liberalising international trade. Its current Director General is Pascal Lamy and is the predecessor of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which was established in 1948. 

The transition between GATT and the WTO occurred because member countries believed that GATT couldn’t adopt well enough to a globalised world.

The WTO exists to administer and oversee existing agreements between countries and provides a forum for negotiations and to settle disputes as well as pursuing reductions in barriers to trade. Rounds are usually held with the intention of reductions in specific tariffs, the latest round is the Doha Round which began in 2001 and still hasn’t been completed (as of Feb 2013), and it is an ambitious plan to reduce tariffs in agriculture and the service industry as well as to reduce non-trade barriers. One of the main reasons that the Doha Round is still ongoing is because agriculture is of a particular concern within the US, Japan and the EU due to the size and lobbying activities of the sector.

Due to the failings so far of the Doha round many countries have undertaken regional agreements, these may hold back global efforts especially if strong trade barriers are imposed against countries that are not a member of the regional agreement.
Page last updated on 15/04/14