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World trade organization (WTO) was established in 1995 for the purpose of overseeing international trade. It has 153 members and its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. WTO members use three official languages: French, English, and Spanish. It replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which was in force since 1947.
It regulates trade between the trading countries and forms a basis for negations and formation of trade agreements. It resolves dispute between the trading nations by ensuring their compliance to the WTO‘s agreement. These agreements are usually signed by the representatives of the different countries whereas the parliament ratifies them (World Trade Organization 2010).
WTO is the sole (international) association known to incorporate rules (trade) among nations. It was introduced for the purpose of assisting producers in the productions of goods and services to be traded across borders. It also assists importers and exporters in carrying out their businesses.
WTO is headed by a ministerial conference that converges after every two years to discuss crucial issues concerning international trade. The first ministerial conference was held in 1996 at Singapore and since then the organization has been holding subsequent meetings. During the first conference, many contradicting issues were raised some of which have not been solved up to date. WTO is administered through a general council, which implements made decisions.
Doha Development Agenda
This is a trade negotiation that was commenced in 2001 with the aim of boosting participation by third word countries. This has received disagreements from countries which rely on export from agricultural products in a bid to protect their farmers from heavy imports. At the moment the future of this Agenda is not clear.
The Doha agenda has been discussed in subsequent conferences but it is yet to receive recognition by majority of the members. If this happens, poor nations will be able to participate in the global market where they have been faced out. Doha agenda aims at protecting these poor nations from exploitation by the developed nations. It aims at abolishing all trade barriers imposed on the poor nations as a way of encouraging them to participate in the global market.
WTO and Globalization
Today almost all nations depend on the global economy. Governments are finding it difficult to respond to their domestic issues as their used to do. WTO influences the performance of member countries and puts restrictions on the use of their monetary policies. These governments have to rely on the international monetary fund for regulations.
Poor nations are becoming poorer day in day out because of the low comparative advantage they have in the international trade. They have to rely on the World Bank for aids and grants for development. For this reason, the Doha Development Agenda was proposed but it has to yet been accepted. Unless it is accepted, the poor nationals will continue to suffer at the expense of the rich nations which have developed economies and comparative advantage in terms of trade.
The fundamental purpose of WTO is to help developing, least developed and poor nations. It gives them trade assistance and helps them to adjust to the rules of WTO regarding trade policies. As we have earlier, WTO is the only international organization that has rules restricting the conduct of member countries.
For instance, member countries are required to publish their trade regulations and to abide by them. WTO is propagating trade and industrial standardization of products, market access, and national treatment for all the products and services produced either within or outside any member countries.
Electronic commerce is a new area in global trade that involves trading of goods and services across borders electronically. It is the use of telecommunication networks to produce, advertise, or sell goods and services. With the advancement in technology, electronic commerce has been growing drastically calling for the attention of WTO. In 1998, WTO members adopted a declaration on global electronic commerce during a conference held at Geneva (World Trade Organization 2010).
According to the declaration, the general council was required to set up an inclusive work program that would be used to scrutinize all electronic commerce trade issues and present a report at WTO’s conference. The declaration also incorporated a cessation that required all WTO members to abolish any customs duties imposed on all electronic transmission. The work program was later adopted at the third conference held at Seattle in 1999.
At the fourth WTO conference that was held in Doha, members decided to carry on with the work program and to continue the practice of not imposing custom duties on electronic commerce. After wards, members engaged in various conferences where they could discuss in depth the crucial issues that would affect growth and development of e-commerce.
Such issues included competition among others. The WTO’s general council main agenda include working on the relationship between trade, finance, and debt among the member countries (World Trade Organization 2010). It works to strengthen international trade especially e-commerce since it is easy and consumes a less period of time to finish a transaction. The council is working to solve the problem of indebtedness in the less developed countries.
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World Trade Organization (2010). Electronic commerce. Retrieved from https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/ecom_e/ecom_e.htm