Established in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization which deals with the rules of international trade between countries. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business by reduction of free trade’s obstacles. But the VTO is not just about liberalizing trade, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers, for example to protect consumers, to prevent the spread of disease or to protect the environment.
THE WTO’s headquarters is in Geneva, Switzerland. On May 26, 2005, the French Pascal Lamy gets the post of Director General of the organization, taking over from Thai Supachai Panitchpakdi.
Above all, the WTO is a negotiating forum where member governments go, to try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other.
Then, it is a set of rules with the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. These documents provide the legal ground-rules for international commerce.
Within the organization, there are various agreements on all trade-related areas:
- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), still effect, but now known as "GATT 1994".
- General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)
- Agreement on Agriculture
- Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Agreement (SPS)
- Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs)
- Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
And it helps to settle disputes, it has a "judiciary", the Board of Settlement of Disputes (DSB), with which countries can consider the appeal.