Created by Uruguay Round of Negotiations (1986-1994), WTO was established on January 1, 1995 with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As on January 1, 2016, 162 countries of the world were members of the WTO. The creation of WTO in 1995 marked the biggest reform of international trade since 1948. During those 47 years, international commerce was regulated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which helped to establish a prosperous multilateral trading system. However, by the end of 1980s an overhaul was due.
WTO replaced GATT which remained in existence from 1948 to 1994. GATT was a multilateral treaty, governing trade in goods only. WTO is much wider in scope and coverage. WTO Agreements cover services and intellectual property as well.
WTO is the only international body dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO Agreements, the legal ground rules for international commerce and for trade policy. The agreements have three main objectives: (a) to help trade flow as freely as possible, (b) to achieve further liberalisation gradually through negotiations and (c) to set up an impartial means of settling disputes. A number of simple, fundamental principles run throughout all the WTO Agreements. They are the foundation of the multilateral trading system. They include: non-discrimination, freer trade, predictable policies, encouragement to competition and extra provisions for less developed countries.
The present work provides an exhaustive description and documentation of the demise of GATT and the birth of WTO. More importantly, the work focuses on the present structure and functioning of WTO, its various agreements and declarations, dispute settlement mechanism, trade review mechanism, pending issues and ongoing negotiations.
The work consists of three parts.
Part I contains 9 chapters. Chapter 1 advocates the case for open trade. Chapter 2 is devoted to General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Chapter 3 discusses the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations and the birth of WTO. Chapter 4 covers WTO agreements on establishment, GATT, agriculture, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and textiles. Chapter 5 explains WTO agreements on technical barriers to trade, trade-related investment, anti-dumping, customs valuation, and pre-shipment inspection. Chapter 6 describes WTO agreements on rules of origin, import licensing, subsidies, and safeguards. Chapter 7 is exclusively devoted to General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Likewise, Chapter 8 exclusively deals with Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Chapter 9 spells out WTO understanding on rules and procedures governing the settlement of disputes.
Part II consists of 10 chapters, one each devoted to the discussions, declarations, decisions and agreements of 10 Ministerial Conferences of the WTO held so far.
Part III contains 1 chapter which looks at the future of WTO. It explains and examines the current issues pending before WTO, hurdles in solving them and strategies of member countries/trade blocks in this regard. Besides, Part III also includes an appendix—which provides a list of 162 members of WTO (as on January 1, 2016)—bibliography and index.