The agreement signed at Marrakesh was established a new entity called World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, which would assume the functions of the old GATT secretarial, and new procedures including a binding dispute settlement mechanism. The Marrakesh agreement also provided for further cuts in tariffs, significant reductions in agricultural subsidies, elimination of textile and apparel quotas over ten years, new trade rules for services, intellectual property, and trade-related investment. The most comprehensive of all GAT trade agreements, the Uruguay Round agreement broke new ground in a number of areas. It improved market access in many sectors by reducing tariff and nontariff barriers.
The World Trade Organization: The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on 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 ramified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that WTO focuses on derive from previous Trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986-1994).
The organization is attempting to complete negotiations on the ‘Doha Development Round’, which was launched in 2001 with an explicit focus on addressing the needs of developing countries. As of June 2012, the future of Doha Round remained uncertain: the work programme lists 21 subjects in which the original deadline of January 2005 was missed, and the round is still incomplete. The conflict between free trade on industrial goods and services but retention of protectionism on farm subsidies to domestic agricultural sector (requested by developed countries) and the substitution of the international liberalization of fair trade on agricultural products (requested by developing countries remain the major obstacles. These points of contention have hindered any progress to launch new WTO negotiations beyond the Doha Development Round. As a result of this impasse, there has been an increasing number of bilateral free trade agreements signed. As of July 2012, there were various negotiation groups in the WTO system for the current agricultural trade negotiation which is in the condition of stalemate.
WTO’s current Director General is Roberto Azevedo, who hads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland. A trade facilitation agreement known as the ‘Bali Package’ was reached by all members on 7 December 2013, the first comprehensive agreement in the organizations history.
Profile of WTO:
1 January 1995
centre William Rappard, Geneva, Switzerland
160 member states
English, French, Spanish.
196 million Swiss francs
Basic Principles of the WTO Agreements: As explained above, the WTO Agreement is based on the concept of reducing trade barriers and applying nondiscriminatory rules. These ideals are embodied in the following basic principles of the WTO.
Principle of MEN(Most-Favored-Nation): GATT Article I provides that with respect to tariffs, etc. on exports and imports, the most advantageous treatment accorded to the products of any country must be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the like products of all other members.
Principle of National Treatment: GATT Article III requires that with respect to internal taxes, internal laws. etc. applied to imports, treatment not Sess favorable than that which is accorded to like domestic products must be accorded to all other Members.
Principle of General Prohibition of…