What is the World Trade Organization (WTO)?

The World Trade Organization is made up of members from across the globe.
The World Trade Organization is made up of members from across the globe.

WTO is an international organization that provides regulations on international trade. The organization deals with trade negotiations among member countries and also offers solutions to trade disputes.

5. Founding

WTO was founded on 1st January 1995 after the agreement formally known as Marrakesh Agreement that was signed on 15th April 1994 by 123 member nations to replace the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). There were extensive rounds of negotiations by GATT member states before the breakthrough after the Uruguay Round of negotiation that led to the signing of the Act that established WTO on April 15, 1994, in Morocco.

4. Objectives

WTO aimed at providing a platform for trade negotiation and trade dispute settlement. The organization is there to take charge of the implementation, operations and the administration of the multilateral trade agreements.

To work hand in hand with other international bodies like the IMF in international economic policy creations. Providing administration of trade policies and trade review mechanism. WTO shall provide administration of rules and procedures that are to be used in trade dispute settlement.

3. Membership

The process of attaining membership to this organization varies from one applicant country to the other. The difference comes on the level of economic development and the existing trade regimes of the country. At an average, the process of attaining WTO membership takes about five years but it can as well take longer than that.

The process of attaining membership begins with the country requesting membership submitting an application to the General council of WTO and in the application; it should describe all the aspects of economic policies and trade. When all has been presented, the working party examines the differences between the domestic trade laws of the applying nation and that of WTO. The last phase involves a negotiation between the working party and the applying nation in matters pertaining commitments to the WTO.

At present WTO has 164 members other 22 observer nations. The most recent members are Liberia that joined on July 14th, 2016 and Afghanistan, which joined on July 29th, 2016. The European Union EU is a member of the organization.

2. Structure

The organizations’ General Council has subordinate bodies that take care of committees in different trade areas. The following are the trade areas.

  • Goods Council: this council is made up of 11 committees that each has a task to perform.
  • TRIPS council:this is the council that deals with the information about the intellectual property in WTO.
  • Council for trade: this council works under the direction of the General Council and its tasks are to monitor the running of General Agreement on Trade in Services GATS.
  • Trade negotiation committee: this is the committee tasked with dealing with talk rounds pertaining trade. For instance the Doha Development Round.

1. Present State

WTO is made up of 164 present member states. The organization also has 22 observer states. Liberia and Afghanistan are the latest members of the organization who joined in 2016. Apart from states, the European Union is also a member of WTO. The states must not necessarily be fully independent states. For instance, the memberships of Hong Kong and that of the People’s Republic of China are good examples of states that are members and are not fully independent.


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