The World Trade
Established on 1 Jan, 1995
Created by Uruguay Round Negotiations (1986 – 94)
Situated in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO facilitates trade between nations under
the established rules. Most of the countries are member states to WTO
agreements. Scope of this organization is to promote world trade by facilitating
producers of goods and services to conduct their business.
Current status of WTO as of 1 January 2002
Membership: 144 countries
Budget: 154 million Swiss francs for 2003
Head of the Organization: Supachai Panitchpakdi (director-general)
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 prevailing sets of agreements were
achieved with the concerted efforts of the member states from a prolonged
Uruguay Round Negotiations. The precursor of the agreement being the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, popularly known as GATT as the guiding
The new rules created from the Uruguay round deals with services, concerns on
intellectual property, dispute settlement and trade policy reviews.
The organization aims at creating barrier free access to markets of all member
countries. It also plays a major role for strengthening the economies of the
developing countries extending enough flexibility in adhering to the established
agreements. Therefore a systematic phasing in and integration of relatively
weaker economies into the World Trade is among the goals of WTO.
GATT objectives were primarily to ensure
a healthy and non-discriminative trade practices. During the period 1947 to
1994, only goods were covered under GATT.
It may be noted that the ICC's Pre-Arbitral
Referee Procedure complements these Rules. It was introduced in 1990 to provide
parties with an alternative to Courts of law in obtaining urgent interim relief
in connection with international commercial disputes.
Formation of WTO, its agreements after
the Uruguay Round gives much emphasis on the Services and Intellectual Property,
which were hitherto not covered under the GATT till 1994.
Now market access is available for banking services, Insurance,
Telecommunications, Tourism, Hotel Chains, and Transportation Chains under the
free access principles covering goods. These are extensively covered in the new
General Agreements o n Trade in Services (GATS). WTO members have also made
individual commitments under GATS stating which of their services sectors they
are willing to open to foreign competition, and how open those markets are.
In order to use the various arbitration
related services, it may be prudent to have such Arbitration Clauses
incorporated in the contracts, its scope, acceptability on findings and other
such pertinent factors as found necessary on a case to case basis. It is only in
such cases arbitration related disputes can find amicable settlements.
The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). WTO’s agreement on TRIPS covers rules on
trade and investment in ideas and creativity. It states how copyrights, patents,
trademarks, geographical names used to identify products, industrial designs
etc. are protected when traded.
of Disputes: WTO has a very effective
dispute settling mechanism among member states. Rule of Law prevails over
disputes and the mechanism in place has been proved effective with even most
powerful economies adhering to its recommendations.