World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization which oversees a large number of agreements covering the "rules of trade" between its member states. It was created in 1995 as a secretariat to administer the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a trade treaty which laid much of the groundwork for the WTO. WTO headquarters are located in Geneva, Switzerland. Its current Director-General is Supachai Panitchpakdi.
WTO members are required to grant one another most favored nation status.
In the late 1990s, the WTO became a major target for protests by the anti-globalization movement.
Where most international organizations operate on a one country, one vote or even a weighted voting basis, many WTO decisions, such as adopting agreements (and revisions to them) are determined by consensus. Voting is only employed as a fall-back mechanism or in special cases. Critics observe that the consensus governance model moves power away from developing countries towards powerful first-world states, who can veto proposals they object to and prevent formal dissent on most measures they support.
The advantage of the consensus model is that it allows extremely rapid deployment of trade laws; it would otherwise take much longer (or not occur at all) in other forums. On the other hand, a system of this sort is skewed in favour of states that can continuously devote substantial resources to the analysis and negotiation of treaty terms. Moreover, under this system, agreements, once adopted, are very hard to change.
Unlike many other international organizations, the WTO has significant power to enforce its decisions, through the operation of its Dispute Settlement Body, an international trade court with the power to authorize sanctions against states which do not comply with its rulings.
- January 1, 1995 - WTO came into existence, following the Marrakech Agreement.
- May 1, 1995 - Renato Ruggiero became director-general for a 4-year term.
- September 1, 1999 - Mike Moore became director-general. The post had been fiercely contested; eventually a compromise was reached with Mike Moore and Supachai Panitchpakdi taking half each of a six-year term.
- November 30, 1999 - 3rd ministerial conference in Seattle, Washington, USA. The conference itself ended in failure, with massive demonstrations and riots drawing worldwide attention.
- November 9 - November 13, 2001 - 4th ministerial conference in Doha, Qatar. Issuance of the Doha Declaration.
- December 11, 2001 - The People's Republic of China joined the WTO after 15 years of negotiations (the longest in GATT history).
- September 1, 2002 - Supachai Panitchpakdi became director-general.
- September 10 - September 14, 2003 - 5th ministerial conference in [[Canc�n]], Mexico. An alliance of 22 southern states, led by India, China and Brazil, resisted demands from the North for agreements on the so-called "Singapore issues": investment protection, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation, while calling for an end to agricultural subsidies within the EU and the US. The talks broke down without progress.
Iran, which first asked to join the WTO in 1996, has seen its request repeatedly blocked by the United States, which lists Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. Russia is also not yet a member, and first applied to join GATT in 1993.
- Official homepage
- Agreements administered by the WTO
- International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
- Recent (9/3/2003) Guardian article on WTO - by George Monbiot
- BBC News - Profile: WTO
BBC News - Timeline: WTO - A chronology of key events]
-  Jargon Explained, Glossaries of Trade terms compiled by 3D -> Trade - Human Rights - Equitable Economy.
- The Nations’ Struggle for the Wealth of the World and its Latest Battlefields
- John Braithwaite & Peter Drahos, Global Business Regulation, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
- Graham Dunkley, The Free Trade Adventure, Zed Books, 2000.da:WTO
de:Welthandelsorganisation [[es:Organizaci�n Mundial del Comercio]] eo:Monda Komerca Organizaĵo fr:Organisation mondiale du commerce nl:World Trade Organization ja:世界貿易機関 pl:Światowa Organizacja Handlu [[pt:Organiza��o Mundial de Com�rcio]] [[fi:Maailman kauppaj�rjest�]] zh:世界贸易组织