What Is WTO And How Did It Come About?
Basically, 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 most of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. This majorly aims at helping producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.
The WTO is a result of negotiations, and therefore everything the WTO does is the result of negotiations. The majority of the WTO’s current work comes from the 1986–94 negotiations popularly known as that (Uruguay Round which was a furtherance of earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
The WTO is currently the hosting to new negotiations which were commenced in 2001 and which have largely been referred to as the Doha Development Agenda.
Countries have faced trade barriers and the negotiations have for the longest time been focusing on opening markets. WTO is at the centre of these negotiations and other than providing the avenue for talks on opening markets, has also made rules that allow a bit of discrimination meant to protect consumer and people, animal and plant health.
The structure WTO has in place are meant to discharge its functions which are administering WTO trade agreements, being a Forum for trade negotiations, Handling trade disputes, Monitoring national trade policies, offering Technical assistance and training for developing countries and encouraging Cooperation with other international organizations.
Under WTO there are many organs performing different functions. In a nutshell, the key organ is that Ministerial Conference. This General Council under which there are the committees on different areas and also the council on trade in goods, the council for tread related aspects of intellectual property rights and council on trade in services. It is noteworthy that the council can usually sit as a dispute settlement body and as a Trade Policy Review Body.
The Ministerial Conference
The Ministerial Conference is the topmost decision-making body of the WTO. It usually meets every two years . It brings together all members of the WTO, all of which are countries or customs unions. The Ministerial Conference can take decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements.
So where does the Ministerial conference draw its mandate?
The Agreement that established the WTO is the Uruguay Round Agreement popularly referred to as the Marrakesh Agreement. It established the Ministerial conference in Article IV which states that there shall be a Ministerial Conference composed of representatives of all the Members, which shall meet at least once every two years. The Ministerial Conference shall carry out the functions of the WTO and take actions necessary to this effect.