The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international body whose purpose is to promote free trade by persuading countries to abolish import tariffs and other barriers. As such, it has become closely associated with globalization.
The WTO is the only international agency overseeing the rules of international trade. It polices free trade agreements, settles trade disputes between governments, and organizes trade negotiations.
WTO decisions are absolute and every member must abide by its rulings. So, when the US and the European Union are in dispute over goods, it is the WTO, which acts as judge and jury. WTO members are empowered by the organization to enforce its decisions by ...view middle of the document...
The Ministerial Conference is also the setting for negotiating global trade deals, known as "trade rounds" which are aimed at reducing barriers to free trade.
The General Council is in charge of the day-to-day running of the WTO and is made up of ambassadors from member states that also serve on various subsidiary and specialist committees. It is based at the WTO headquarters in Geneva. They are involved in the key decision-making arm of the WTO for most issues. Several bodies report directly to the General Council.
The Trade Policy Review Body is composed of all the WTO members, and oversees the Trade Policy Review Mechanism of the Uruguay Round. It reviews the trade policies and practices of all member states. These reviews are to provide a general indication of how the states are implementing their obligations and to contribute to improved adherence by the WTO parties to their obligations.
The Dispute Settlement Body is composed of all WTO members. It oversees the implementation and effectiveness of the dispute resolution process for all WTO agreements and the decisions on WTO disputes. Dispute resolution is mandatory and binding on all members. A final decision of the Appellate Body can be reversed by a full consensus of the Dispute Settlement Body.
The Councils on Trade in Goods and Trade in Services operate under the mandate of the General Council and are composed of all members. They oversee the details of the general and specific agreements on trade in goods and trade in services.
The Secretariat and Director General of the WTO resides in Geneva, in the old home of the GATT. The Secretariat now numbers just under 550 people, and undertakes the administrative functions of running all aspects of the organization. The Secretariat has no legal decision-making powers but provides vital services, and often advice, to those who do. The Director General, who is elected by the members, heads the Secretariat.
The Committee on Trade and...