World Trade Organization

World Trade Organization


The World Trade Organization traces its origin from the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade abbreviated as (GATT). The WTO took over advancement the mandate of the GATT when new demands in the global trade policy arose. The organization’s origin traces back to 1994 when the ministerial congress in morocco extended the scope trade to textiles, intellectual property and Agriculture, a move that would launch the WTO.


The WTO operates on a mission to supervise and liberalize global trade in between the member states.


The organization seeks to supervise and liberalize trade between the member countries; it provides a platform for negotiating and making trade agreements formal. The organization has a structure for resolving trade disputes by enforcing adherence to the agreed trade norms. The parliaments of respective member countries ratify the agreements adopted by the organization. The decisions agreed upon and passed by the world trade organization are final. Therefore, the members who fail to abide by the rules of the organization may receive sanctions from the organization.

One of the functions of the organization would be to oversee the implementation, operation and enforcement of the set agreements. The other one may be to provide a forum or platform for negotiations or settling the trade disputes between member countries. Other functions conducted by the organization include reviewing and entrenching international trade policies ensuring transparency and coherence of the policies. The organization also prioritizes assistance of developing countries to adjust to its standards of operations through technical training and cooperation. The organization also serves as a platform for economic research and analysis through its annual publications on key trends in the economic world.

Organizational Structure

The major council further divides into several subsidiary bodies. Each body has a duty to oversee functions in the various areas of the organization.


  • The council of trade in all goods and services.

All countries party to the organization participates here. The council provides the mechanism, and a framework to oversee aspects of specific and general agreements appertaining trade in goods and services. The trade in goods such as textiles and agriculture would be covered herein. It is composed of 12 among which includes Agriculture, customs valuation, Information Technology among others.

  • The ministerial conference

This body comprises all trade ministers from member countries. Serving as the governing body, it formulates policies and makes final decisions on issues under its docket. This body meets at least twice in every two years.

  • The general council

This is the supreme wing composed of all senior representatives of member countries. Based in Geneva Switzerland, the body oversees on daily basis operations of the WTO. As the key decision-making wing in most issues, all other bodies report directly to this body.

  • The dispute settlement body

Composed of all members, the body oversees the execution of the dispute resolution procedures for WTO agreements and implementation of the decisions made during disputes. A permanent appellate body established in 1994 together with disputes resolution panels’ specific for each case listens to the cases. The decisions reached here are final and may be irrevocable

  • The trade policy review committee

The body would be viewed as a derivative of the Uruguay Round. The key duty of this body would be to oversee trade policy, and review modalities of all member states. The reason for reviewing is to define how states exercise adherence to the WTO standards and promoting integration of their obligations.

  • The secretariat and director general

These personalities reside in Geneva the secretariat may serve administrative functions. Headed by the director general, the secretariat may have no absolute powers, nevertheless; it may serve vital functions such as advising other bodies. Member states elect the director general.


The world trade organization would trace its history from 1995; the organization came in a move to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). From 1946, the GATT used to control all trade regulations including employment, commodity agreements, investments and restrictive business practices (Footer 2005, p. 24). GATT being the only multilateral institution governing international trade would have translated to de facto trade organization in the world. After several rounds of negotiations over the mandate of the Agreement, the WTO would come to realization in 1995. The eighth GATT round of negotiations that would be called Uruguay Round took place in Uruguay in 1986. Members of the Uruguay Round agreed that the existing system might have been struggling to adapt to the new world economy. The subjects addressed in the Uruguay Round would extend the scope of the trading system to new areas. These areas included service trade and intellectual property, agriculture and textile industries. All these reviews brought aboard changes that would culminate to the conclusion of the GATT. The final deliberations of the Uruguay Round formalized establishment of the organization during a ministerial meeting in Morocco in the year 1994. From then, the WTO would act as the new governing body for trade regulations among the member states.

Controversy of the World Trade Organization

The WTO may be associated with controversies raised from different quotas. These controversies relate to trade policies passed by the organization while exercising its mandate. Others include scrutiny. For instance, the American and Canadian governments fronted a controversial argument that even labeling of goods as environmentally friendly would be a technical regulation that sought scrutiny. The WTO organization would be victimized with allowing labeling of products in a way to suggest that they would be safe. Another popular controversy concerns the decision-making procedures of the organization, it would be purported that the organization’s decision-making procedures may not reach the world standards and that they need evaluation (Ziegler, 2007, p. 11).


Footer M. E. (2005). An Institutional and Normative Analysis of the World Trade    Organization. New York: Martinus Nijhoff         Publishers.

Ziegler, A. R., Bonzon, Y. (2007). How to reform WTO decision-making? An Analysis    of the Current Functioning of the Organization from the Perspectives of             Efficiency and Legitimacy. Swiss National Center of Competence in Research. 4-   17

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