Sunday Jan 1, 1995 to Present
Geneva, SwitzerlandThe World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international trade. It officially commenced operations on 1 January 1995, pursuant to the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, thus replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that had been established in 1948. The WTO is the world's largest international economic organization, with 164 member states representing over 96% of global trade and global GDP.
The Annecy Round was a multi-year multilateral trade negotiation (MTN) between 26 nation-states that were parties to the GATT. This second round took place in 1949 in Annecy, France. 13 countries took part in the round. The main focus of the talks was more tariff reductions, around 5,000 in total.
The Torquay Round was a multi-year multilateral trade negotiation (MTN) between nation-states that were parties to the GATT. This third round occurred in Torquay, England in 1951. Thirty-eight countries took part in the round. 8,700 tariff concessions were made totaling the remaining amount of tariffs to ¾ of the tariffs which were in effect in 1948. The contemporaneous rejection by the U.S. of the Havana Charter signified the establishment of the GATT as a governing world body.
The Geneva Round was the fourth session of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) multilateral trade negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland. It started in 1955 and lasted until May 1956. Twenty-six countries took part in the round. $2.5 billion in tariffs were eliminated or reduced.
The Dillon Round was a multi-year multilateral trade negotiation (MTN) between 26 nation-states that were parties to the GATT. The fifth round in the GATT occurred in Geneva and lasted from May 1959 through July 1962. The talks were named after U.S. Treasury Secretary and former Under Secretary of State, Douglas Dillon, who first proposed the talks. Along with reducing over $4.9 billion in tariffs with about 4,400 item-by-item cuts, it also yielded discussion relating to the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC).
The Kennedy Round was the sixth session of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) multilateral trade negotiations held between 1964 and 1967 in Geneva, Switzerland. Congressional passage of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act in 1962 authorized the White House to conduct mutual tariff negotiations, ultimately leading to the Kennedy Round. Participation greatly increased over previous rounds. Sixty-six nations, representing 80% of world trade, attended the official opening on May 4, 1964, at the Palais des Nations. Despite several disagreements over details, the director-general announced the round’s success on May 15, 1967, and the final agreement was signed on June 30, 1967—the last day permitted under the Trade Expansion Act. The main objectives of the Kennedy Round were to: Slash tariffs by half with a minimum of exceptions. Break down farm trade restrictions. Remove non-tariff barriers. Help developing countries.
The Tokyo Round was a multi-year multilateral trade negotiation (MTN) between 102 nation-states that were parties to the GATT. The negotiations resulted in reduced tariffs and established new regulations aimed at controlling the proliferation of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and voluntary export restrictions. The aim was further to harmonize government policies. Concessions were made on $19 billion worth of trade, and were scheduled to enter effect over eight years from 1980. The Tokyo Round concluded in April 1979.
The Uruguay Round was the 8th round of multilateral trade negotiations (MTN) conducted within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), spanning from 1986 to 1993 and embracing 123 countries as "contracting parties". The Round led to the creation of the World Trade Organization, with GATT remaining as an integral part of the WTO agreements. The broad mandate of the Round had been to extend GATT trade rules to areas previously exempted as too difficult to liberalize (agriculture, textiles) and increasingly important new areas previously not included (trade in services, intellectual property, investment policy trade distortions).
The Marrakesh Agreement, manifested by the Marrakesh Declaration, was an agreement signed in Marrakesh, Morocco, by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, marking the culmination of the 8-year-long Uruguay Round and establishing the World Trade Organization, which officially came into being on 1 January 1995.
It officially commenced operations on 1 January 1995, pursuant to the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, thus replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that had been established in 1948. The WTO is the world's largest international economic organization, with 164 member states representing over 96% of global trade and global GDP.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services was created to extend the multilateral trading system to service sector, in the same way as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provided such a system for merchandise trade. The agreement entered into force in January 1995.
The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation. It was negotiated at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994.
The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures—also known as the SPS Agreement—was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of GATT, and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO at the beginning of 1995. Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets constraints on members' policies relating to food safety (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection, and labeling) as well as animal and plant health (imported pests and diseases).
The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade is an international treaty of the World Trade Organization. It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO at the end of 1994. The object ensures that technical negotiations and standards, as well as testing and certification procedures, do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade".
The inaugural ministerial conference (1996) was held in Singapore. Disagreements between largely developed and developing economies emerged during this conference over four issues initiated by this conference, which led to them being collectively referred to as the "Singapore issues".
The Doha round officially began in November 2001, committing all countries to negotiations opening agricultural and manufacturing markets, as well as trade-in-services (GATS) negotiations and expanded intellectual property regulation (TRIPS). The intent of the round, according to its proponents, was to make trade rules fairer for developing countries. However, by 2008, critics were charging that the round would expand a system of trade rules here were bad for development and interfered excessively with countries' domestic "policy space". The 2001 ministerial declaration established an official deadline for concluding negotiations for the Doha round on 1 January 2005.
The fifth ministerial conference (2003) was held in Cancún, Mexico, aiming at forging agreement on the Doha round. An alliance of 22 southern states, the G20 developing nations (led by India, China, Brazil, ASEAN led by the Philippines), resisted demands from the North for agreements on the so-called "Singapore issues" and called for an end to agricultural subsidies within the EU and the US. The talks broke down without progress.
Trade negotiators wanted to make tangible progress before the December 2005 WTO meeting in Hong Kong and held a session of negotiations in Paris in May 2005. Paris talks were hanging over a few issues: France protested moves to cut subsidies to farmers, while the US, Australia, the EU, Brazil, and India failed to agree on issues relating to chicken, beef, and rice. Most of the sticking points were small technical issues, making trade negotiators fear that agreement on large politically risky issues will be substantially harder.
The sixth WTO ministerial conference (2005) was held on 13–18 December 2005 in Hong Kong. It was considered vital if the four-year-old Doha Development Round negotiations were to move forward sufficiently to conclude the round in 2006. In this meeting, countries agreed to phase out all their agricultural export subsidies by the end of 2013, and terminate any cotton export subsidies by the end of 2006. Further concessions to developing countries included an agreement to introduce duty-free, tariff-free access for goods from the Least Developed Countries, following the Everything but Arms initiative of the European Union—but with up to 3% of tariff lines exempted. Other major issues were left for further negotiation to be completed by the end of 2010.
The July 2006 talks in Geneva failed to reach an agreement about reducing farming subsidies and lowering import taxes, and negotiations took months to resume. A successful outcome of the Doha round became increasingly unlikely because the broad trade authority granted under the Trade Act of 2002 to President George W. Bush was due to expire in 2007. Any trade pact would then have to be approved by Congress with the possibility of amendments, which would hinder the US negotiators and decrease the willingness of other countries to participate. Hong Kong offered to mediate the collapsed trade liberalization talks. Director-general of Trade and Industry, Raymond Young, says the territory, which hosted the last round of Doha negotiations, has a "moral high-ground" on free trade that allows it to play the role of "honest broker".
In June 2007, negotiations within the Doha round broke down at a conference in Potsdam, as a major impasse occurred between the US, the EU, India, and Brazil. The main disagreement was over opening up agricultural and industrial markets in various countries and how to cut rich nation farm subsidies.
On 21 July 2008, negotiations started again at the WTO's HQ in Geneva on the Doha round but stalled after nine days of negotiations over the refusal to compromise over the special safeguard mechanism. "Developing country members receive special and differential treatment with respect to other members' safeguard measures, in the form of a de minimis import volume exemption. As users of safeguards, developing country members receive special and differential treatment with respect to applying their own such measures, with regard to the permitted duration of extensions, and with respect to re-application of measures.
The WTO General Council, on 26 May 2009, agreed to hold a seventh WTO ministerial conference session in Geneva from 30 November –3 December 2009. A statement by chairman Amb. Mario Matus acknowledged that the prime purpose was to remedy a breach of the protocol requiring two-yearly "regular" meetings, which had lapsed with the Doha Round failure in 2005, and that the "scaled-down" meeting would not be a negotiating session, but "emphasis will be on transparency and open discussion rather than on small group processes and informal negotiating structures". The general theme for discussion was "The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System, and the Current Global Economic Environment".