The World Trade Organization is an organization that deals with trade openness.
It is a place where governments negotiate trade agreements. It is a place where they settle their trade disputes. It is an organization that administers a set of business rules.
The WTO is essentially a place for Member governments to try to resolve trade issues between them.
The WTO was born out of negotiations, and everything it does is the result of negotiations. Most of its activities have their origins in the so-called Uruguay Round negotiations, which took place from 1986 to 1994, and in previous negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT ).
New negotiations are now taking place at the WTO, as part of the “Doha Development Agenda” launched in 2001. When countries encountered barriers to trade that they wanted to reduce, negotiations made it possible to open up markets. But opening up markets is not the only objective of the WTO. Indeed, in certain circumstances, its rules call for the maintenance of barriers to trade - for example to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.
At the heart of the system are the WTO Agreements, which have been negotiated and signed by most of the world's trading nations. These texts set out the fundamental legal rules governing international trade. These are basically contracts that oblige governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits. Although they have been negotiated and signed by governments, their purpose is to help producers of goods and services, exporters and importers to operate, while enabling governments to achieve social and environmental goals. . The overarching aim of the system is to make trade as free as possible - as long as this has no unwanted side effects - as this is important for economic development and well-being. In part, this involves removing obstacles. But we also need to ensure that individuals, businesses and governments know what trade rules are being applied around the world and have confidence that they will not be changed abruptly.
In other words, the rules must be “transparent” and predictable. Often, business relationships involve competing interests. Agreements, including those barely negotiated in the WTO, often need to be interpreted. The most harmonious way to resolve these differences is to have recourse to a neutral procedure based on agreed legal bases. This is the purpose of the dispute settlement process provided for in the WTO Agreements.
Organization of the searchable report by section online:
I. Introduction - Acknowledgments - Message from the Director General, Roberto Azevêdo
II. Main data on world trade in 2019 - World trade in 2019 - World merchandise trade in 2019 - World exports of commercial services in 2019 - Main trading nations of the world - Least developed countries - Data in Excel format
III. World trade and GDP, 2019-20 - World trade and GDP - Merchandise trade volume - Commodity prices - Exchange rates - World trade value - COVID-19 and trade - Outlook for 2020 - Data as of Excel format
IV. Evolution of the structure of trade - Trade in goods - Trade in services - Global supply chains for chemicals and pharmaceuticals - Statistical reports - Data in Excel format
V. Composition, definitions and methodology - Composition of geographic and economic groupings - Definitions and methodology - Notes on certain economies - Statistical sources - Abbreviations and symbols
VI. Statistical tables - Data in Excel format
Download the report: https://www.wto.org/french/res_f/statis_f/wts2020_f/wts2020_f.pdf
Virginie Gastine Menou
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