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Evolution of World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence on 1 January 1995 which replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). WTO is the result of Marrakesh Agreement, to which 123 nations were the signatories. It has played a vital role in the regulation of an international trade as well as building the economy worldwide. It also helps in maintaining international peace and security.

It can be aptly said that WTO is the backbone of international trade. With the advent of GATT and WTO, the considerable growth rate in the economy has been observed in the history of world trade after Second World War.[1] WTO, after 1995 laid the strong and prospering foundation for the economic growth. Therefore, WTO is one of the major organizations ensuring the growth in an international trade and also in the successful implementation of rules and regulations. It has also made a provision regarding the dispute settlement mechanism.

Extension of GATT, establishment of WTO

WTO can be considered as an extension of GATT. WTO came into existence after long run Uruguay Round of negotiations. GATT was one of the agreement which was included in WTO, the other two agreements that is GATS and TRIPS were not within the preview if WTO. GATT was not the independent body while WTO is a corporate entity under International law. Undoubtedly, GATT has resulted in the unprecedented growth of economy but still there was the demand for the establishment of stronger and stable organization to monitor trade and disputes among the nations. This has resulted in the formulation of WTO.[2]

The main purpose of WTO was the implementation and administration as well as operation of multilateral and plurilateral trade agreements. Also it maintains the trade policy review mechanism (TRIMS). Moreover, it makes the effective framework for IMF and World Bank also.

The establishment of GATT was not futile, it has performed various major functions in the regulation of trade but there are many loopholes which lead to its failure. The emergence of WTO proved to be a very enlightening aspect in international trade. The economy gradually improved and international trade flourished.

WTO Agreements

The continuous process of trade negotiations took place resulted in the formation of WTO. In the year 1986-94, the Uruguay Round negotiations took place which amended the older GATT and brought many major changes in it. The Uruguay Round formulation many new rules related to trade in services, intellectual property and dispute settlement mechanism. With the passage of time, WTO complied with many agreements and negotiations, resulting in the all new non discriminatory system of trading.

It started with the trade in goods. The Marrakesh Agreement which resulted in the establishment of WTO was the “Umbrella agreement” which covered many provisions related different issues. Many modifications in GATT laid the foundation of WTO. The annexes contains the provisions related to goods, issues related to product standards, subsidies, anti dumping etc. one of the major change happened in 2017 was Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Another notable point is the inclusion of Intellectual Property Agreements stating the provisions related to copyrights, trademarks, patents, geographical indications etc. these rights needs to be protected while doing an international trade.

The another vital aspect of WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism is to maintain the transparency. Time to time scrutiny has to be done for all the WTO members. In addition to that, the monitoring of global trade measures was also a remarkable function.

Functions of WTO

It is well established fact that GATT only dealt with the trade in goods. The scope and functions of GATT were very narrow and it does not include many other trade aspects. In addition to that, GATT was temporary in nature while WTO is permanent.

The functions include [4]:

  • To formulate the rules regarding trade policy review mechanism.
  • It also works for administration of multilateral and bilateral agreements.
  • To establish strong dispute settlement mechanism.
These are the functions of WTO which covers a wide range as compared to GATT. Certain other objectives of WTO includes the improvisation of the standard of living of WTO members, to ensure full employment, to encourage and increase the production and trade of goods and services, to ensure the optimum utilization of world resources and to apply the concept of sustainable development.

There are many other important functions of WTO which helps in the smooth regulatory framework established by this organization. The economy needs to get an improvement and also it is the need of an hour to strengthen the aspects of international trade. The economy of the country is directly proportional to the trade that is import and export sector as well. So this shall be kept in mind that how important the trade related activities are in the world.

WTO is an essential organ operates the international trade. Its establishment was to maintain the transparency and accountability in the trading sector. Moreover for the peaceful settlement of the disputes arising among the nations. WTO is a stronger organization as compared to GATT. The functions and powers of WTO are much wider and possess the special position in international law. GATT focused only on goods but excluded the other major areas but WTO has a very wide interpretation and scope.

The aims and objectives of WTO is much more wider and effective as compared to GATT. The functions of WTO extends to not only trade in goods but covers each and every aspect of international trade. Due to the permanent nature of WTO, it is very important for regulating the trade and tariffs as well as settling the disputes and maintaining international peace.

With the advent of WTO, the increase in growth of international trade is observed with gradual reduction of tariffs and trade without discrimination aspect. It ensures the fair completion with the well established rules of subsidies and anti-dumping. So, World Trade Organization serves the important functions in international trade as well as it facilitates the fair a smooth dealing in trade.

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Vaasawa Sharma

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