Seven rounds of negotiations occurred under the GATT and the eight round known as 'Uruguay Round' started in 1989 and concluded in 1994 with the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. The principles and agreements of GATT were adopted for the WTO, along with new ones. There are 150 member countries in WTO which was charged with administering and resolving trade disputes between the members. Unlike the GATT, the WTO has a substantial and effective organizational structure. Pascal Lamy is the Director-General of the WTO since 2005 for a term of four years.
The WTO aims for a trading system free of any discrimination and with more freedom, that is, toward fewer trade barriers (tariffs and non-tariff barriers). It also aims for a trading system with greater competition but with more accommodation for less developed countries, giving them more time to adjust, greater flexibility, and more privileges.
Administering WTO trade agreements.
Forum for trade negotiations.
Handling trade disputes.
Monitoring national trade policies.
Technical assistance and training for developing countries.
Cooperation with other international organizations.
All members of the WTO will meet once in two years in the Ministerial Conference which can make decisions on all matters of the multilateral trade agreements. The Fourth Ministerial Conference held at Doha, Fifth at Cancum (Mexico) and the Sixth at Hong Kong. The Seventh round to discuss the Doha Development Agenda negotiations were suspended due to persisting disagreements between developed and developing countries.
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