Q.8:- Write a detailed note on features, structure, objectives and functioning of WTO.
GATT was transformed into World Trade Organisation (WTO) with effect from 1st January 1995. The headquarters of WTO are situated at Geneva, Switzerland.
Features of WTO
(i) WTO is a permanent organization created by an international treaty ratified by the governments and legislatures of member states.
(ii) It governs trade not only in goods, but also in services and intellectual property rights.
(iii) It is a member driven rule-based organization in the sense that all the decisions are taken by the member governments on the basis of a general consensus.
(iv) It is the principal international body concerned with solving trade problems between countries and providing a forum for multilateral trade negotiations.
(v) It has a global status similar to that of the IMF and the World Bank.
(vi) As on 11th December 2005, there were 149 members in WTO.
Structure of WTO
(i) WTO comprises of The Ministerial Conference, which is composed of international trade ministers from all member countries and is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organization and making all final decisions on agreements under its wings. The Ministerial Conference meets at least once every two years.
(ii) The General Council is composed of senior representatives of all members responsible for overseeing the day-to-day business and management of the WTO.
(iii) The Trade Policy Review Body is also composed of all the WTO members. It periodically reviews the trade policies and practices of all member states.
(iv) The Dispute Settlement Body is also composed of all the WTO members and oversees the implementation and effectiveness of the dispute resolution process for all WTO agreements.
(v) 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 provide a mechanism to oversee the details of the general and specific agreements on trade in goods and services.
(vi) The Secretariat and Director General 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 Secretariat is headed by the Director General, who is elected by the members.
(vii) The Committee on Trade and Development and Committee on Trade and Environment have specific mandates to focus on these relationships, which are especially relevant to how the WTO deals with sustainable development issues. Major
Objectives of WTO
(i) To ensure reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers imposed by different countries.
(ii) To engage in such activities which improve the standards of living, create employment, increase income and effective demand and facilitate higher production and trade.
(iii) To facilitate the optimal use of the world’s resources for sustainable development.
(iv) To promote an integrated, more viable and durable trading system.
Functions of WTO
(i) Promoting an environment that is encouraging to its member countries to come forward to WTO in mitigating their grievances.
(ii) Laying down a commonly accepted code of conduct with a view to reducing trade barriers including tariffs and eliminating discriminations in international trade relations.
(iii) Acting as a dispute settlement body.
(iv) Ensuring that all the rules and regulations prescribed in the Act are duly followed by the member countries for the settlement of their disputes.
(v) Holding consultations with IMF and IBRD and its affiliated agencies so as to bring better understanding and cooperation in global economic policy making.
(vi) Supervising on a regular basis the operations of the revised Agreements and Ministerial declarations relating to goods, services and Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).