World Trade Organization (WTO)

Foundation Date: 1 January 1995

Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland

Director General: Roberto Azevêdo

Member Countries: 159 members on 2 March 2013

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

The WTO is run by its member governments. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole, either by ministers (who usually meet at least once every two years) or by their ambassadors or delegates (who meet regularly in Geneva).

WTO's main activities are:

  • Negotiating the reduction or elimination of obstacles to trade (import tariffs, other barriers to trade) and agreeing on rules governing the conduct of international trade (e.g. antidumping, subsidies, product standards, etc.).
  • Administering and monitoring the application of the WTO's agreed rules for trade in goods, trade in services, and trade-related intellectual property rights.
  • Monitoring and reviewing the trade policies of our members, as well as ensuring transparency of regional and bilateral trade agreements — settling disputes among our members regarding the interpretation and application of the agreements .
  • Building capacity of developing country government officials in international trade matters.
  • Assisting the process of accession of some 30 countries who are not yet members of the organization .
  • Conducting economic research and collecting and disseminating trade data in support of the WTO's other main activities.
  • Explaining to and educating the public about the WTO, its mission and its activities.

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