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World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The World Trade Organisation (WTO), with a central location in Geneva, is the only international body that deals with the rules of trade between nations world-wide. The nexus of the WTO are the agreements it has established which represent the foundations for policies on international trade and commerce. The agreements are the foundation of the multi-lateral trading system and are concerned with helping trade flow freely, the achievement of trade liberalisation through negotiation, and the settling disputes concerned with trade. The main aims of the WTO include: working as a forum for trade negotiations; administrating the agreements; monitoring national trade policy; co-operating with other international organisations; and providing technical assistance and training for developing countries.
The creation of the WTO in 1995 represented the biggest international trade reform since the establishment of the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Before ‘95, GATT set the tone for world trade with a limited field of action. By the 1980s GATT was becoming outdated; trade had become more complex and the loopholes in it were being exploited. When the 1990s rolled around globalisation `was increasing dramatically along with international inventory expansion. In the Uruguay Roundtable of 1995 these issues were confronted and the WTO was formed to replace GATT with increasing effectiveness.
Current projects of the WTO are focused around the research and analysis of various topics dealing with trade and more recently globalisation including, but not limited to: the environment, trade liberalisation and sustainable development, banking, and education. The rapidly developing globalised economy and the impact of the Internet have been a main concern of the WTO in more recent reports.
The recent Ministerial meeting in Seattle, USA, has caused major discussions and many NGOs have engaged in critical work on WTO.

Check the list of links on Finance / Trade / Investment / Economic Growth for references to many WTO, UN, Government and NGO web-sites on the problems related to the WTO.

Read the Women's Caucus Statement from the WTO meeting in Seattle

For further information on WTO visit



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