World Trade Organization
"The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.”

The World Trade Organization is an international organization that focuses on establishing global trade rules to facilitate open trade.

The Institution
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) ensures a global system of trade rules by administering the WTO trade agreements. It also acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, settles disputes between its members and provides technical assistance and training for developing countries.
  • The WTO was established in 1995 and is located in Geneva, Switzerland. Today the organization has 164 members representing 98 % of world trade.
  • The basic principles of the WTO are laid out in the following three agreements: the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

  • The agreements include principles like: Trade without discrimination, predictability (no arbitrary changes in trade barriers) and promoting fair competition.
  • A special feature of the WTO is its unique dispute settlement mechanism. All members have agreed to settle their disputes concerning violation of trade rules by abiding by the agreed procedures and not take action unilaterally. The judgements are binding. However, most of the disputes are settled by discussion, consultations and mediation between the parties.
  • The Ministerial Conference meets every two years and is the highest decision-making body in the WTO. The daily work is handled by three bodies who have the same members: the General Council, the Dispute Settlement Body and the Trade Policy Review Body.

The Database
  • "Documents Online" is the official database of the WTO.
  • With over 140,000 documents the database gives access to official records, background papers, GATT documents, decisions, legal texts and agreements and so on.
  • The documents are available since 1995 and the database is updated daily.

Available Formats
  • The documents are published in the three official languages: English, French and Spanish.
  • All WTO documents are posted in PDF- and Word-format.

Sources: World Trade Organization

Information status as of 27.10.2021

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