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Origin, Purpose and Important Aspects of the WTO Essay

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Updated: Dec 22nd, 2021

Introduction

The WTO (World Trade Organization) is the only organization in the world dealing with trade agreements between countries and it is characterized by a number of trading rules. The chief goal of the WTO is to oversee the production, exportation and importation of goods and services. It ensures that trade between countries is governed by a number of agreements that helps the WTO in its advocacy for fairness of the terms of international trade. The WTO is also involved in a number of activities that are marginal to international trade. These activities are mainly humanitarian. The WTO thus uses its power to control the trade interests of countries to ensure that nations uphold humanitarian and environmental conservation values (Timothy, 2002, p. 1).

Origin

Ideas to the birth of the WTO came up 1944 with the ITO (International Trade Organization). During the creation of the ITO, 1946 to 1948, representatives from 17 nations met in Geneva and agreed to form an interim trade agreement, GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) that lowered trade barriers and tariffs among the 17 countries. The United States Senate was not in favor of the ITO and therefore the GATT took the place of the ITO. GATT members later decided to replace GATT with the WTO. Some reasons for this are: GATT dealt with merchandise goods only while WTO covered goods, services and intellectual property, and the fact that the WTO had more established agreements and it was more efficient in solving conflicts. The WTO came into being in January 1, 1995 (Gordon, 2003, p. 1).

Purpose of the WTO

The purposes for the creation of the WTO included improving the standards of living of the citizens of member countries, ensuring full employment while at the same time achieving sustainable economic growth and environmental protection, and ensuring that international trade growth benefits the least developed countries. To achieving the above, the WTO engages itself in establishing trading rules between countries globally, liberalizing of trade, solving trade-related disputes between counties etcetera. Today, the focus of the WTO has shifted from public interest to its own establishment as a body advocating for the free flow of trade among nations. This advocacy for free trade has led to a lot of criticism of the WTO as a body gratifying the manipulative desires of rich countries (Harrison, 2005, p. 9).

Current goals of the WTO

The WTO has been dynamic with reference to its goals since its creation. This is due to the dynamic nature of trade. The current goals of the WTO are: to establish a reference knowledge base on trade laws and their implications and ramifications; to establish a strong conflict solving infrastructure for handling trade conflicts between nations; to make member countries more aware of the implications of its trade agreements, cooperating with various countries on matters related to trade restrictions; assisting governments in trade negotiations, etc. As it is evident in the goals above, the WTO has specialized in supporting trade among countries while emphasizing on its importance (Patel, 2008, p. 1).

Analysis of the WTO

The major problem facing the WTO is its involvement in subjects unrelated to trade. Jackson (2004) argues that this problem is a threat to the functionality of the WTO itself. It is argued that the WTO agreements contain issues that make other issues of importance subordinate to them. For instance, the involvement of the WTO in health issues, environmental conservation, poverty alleviation, consumer and worker safety, freedom of labor and human rights (Esty, 2002, p. 1).

The most powerful countries and corporations who use the WTO to exploit other countries and corporations by threatening them with breaching WTO agreements and other trade related threats allegedly cause this extended involvement in affairs. Most of these countries are desperate for international cooperation in terms of trade and aid and thus they yield in to the demands of the powerful countries through the WTO. It is also argued that the WTO prioritizes corporation needs over human rights, privatizes essential services, increases inequality and undermines local decision-making and national sovereignty (Costantini, 2001, p. 1).

According to Ciriaci (1999), the joining the WTO is more beneficial than it is disadvantageous. It enables a country to be a destination for foreign investment; helps nations solve previous disagreements due to the motivation of the mutual benefit of trade, advocates for equality of countries in terms of trade such that a country is defended against unfavorable decisions on its exports by another country.

Conclusion

The current goals of the WTO widen its scope in promoting international cooperation and ensuring productive effect of trade. Thus, they should not be subjected to criticism. It may be true that the WTO has problems in limiting its scope of involvement in issues and ensuring non-preferential treatment of member states but it does so in the interest of promoting trade. Conflicting nations should not use these problems to defend their weakness of international ties. Some problems may exist in the policies and the programs of the WTO but we should all appreciate its massive contribution to international trade.

Reference List

Ciriaci, F. (1999). WTO membership pros said to outweigh cons, Jordan Times. Web.

Costantini, P. (2001). What’s wrong with the WTO? Web.

Esty, D. (2002). The World Trade Organization’s legitimacy crisis. Web.

Gordon, D. (2003). The WTO– Creation, Encyclopedia of the Nations. Web.

Harrison, J. (2005). Objectives and Organization of the WTO. Web.

Jackson, J. (2004). The Boundaries of the WTO. Web.

Patel, N. (2008). Objectives: WTO. Web.

Timothy, K. (2002). What is the WTO? Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Origin, Purpose and Important Aspects of the WTO'. 22 December.

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