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The World Trade Organisation ("WTO").

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Introduction

The World Trade Organisation ("WTO") is located in Geneva, Switzerland. It was established in January 1995 having been created by the Uruguay Round negotiations of 1986-94. Membership is around 146 countries at present with a budget of 154 million Swiss francs for 2003. Its secretariat staff is in the region of 5501. The functions of the WTO are to administer WTO agreements, a forum for trade negotiations, handling of trade disputes, monitoring national trade policies, offering technical assistance and training for developing countries and co-operating with other international organisation. Representatives of member governments meet to negotiate and discuss problems relating to trade. The WTO was born out of negotiations and its achievements are the result of these initial negotiations. The WTO's current work comes from the 1986-94 negotiations "the Uruguay Round" and earlier negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ("GATT") and more recently the Doha Development Agenda ("DDA") of 2001. The result of these negotiations is to help liberalise trade and to instigate rules to protect matters such protecting the consumer or stopping the spread of disease by assisting in the flow of trade and ensuring that the governments and companies are aware of the trade rules of the WTO.2 The WTO is therefore, an amalgamation of agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations. These agreements consist of legal ground-rules for international commerce, which are contractual obligations, that are binding on the governments, offering transparency and predictability. Obviously, where trade relations exist, there will be an element of conflicting interests. The WTO also assists in settling disputes through neutral procedures based on an agreed legal foundation. This purpose is written into the WTO agreements. Essentially, the trading system under the WTO is aimed at non-discrimination. That is, there is to be equality between trading nations and non-favouritism for its own products. This has induced the barriers to be let down to assist in a freer trade between trading nations and in discouraging unfair practices such ...read more.

Middle

A very restrictive approach here by the ECJ.20 In other cases, the ECJ has applied the principle that EC law should be interpreted in the light of international law and of binding international agreements to the provisions of GATT and other WTO agreements. This has the consequence of enhancing their effectiveness in certain circumstances, albeit not normally when they are being invoked to challenge EC measures. 21 Finally, it is clear that until the Portugal v Council22 case, the ECJ and Court of First Instance, have avoided addressing the question of the legal effect and enforceability of the WTO agreements. This shows that the WTO system is far superior, in that it is more judicial and less political in practice than that of the Community's.23 The functions of the WTO in providing a substantive code of conduct directed at the reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade, and the elimination of discrimination in international trade relations has a clear overlap with EU policies. However, the EU is predominantly European countries whereas the WTO has no distinction between the east and western countries, and therefore, subject to membership and accession, could, and probably will, eventually cover every trading country worldwide. It is, however, with regard to dispute settlement, that the WTO surpasses the EU and other international regimes. And it is to this area of the WTO that its prominent role in global governance is clear. The WTO has endeavoured to create stability within the global economy in its use of dispute settlement. The priority is to use consultation procedures to settle a dispute, but not to pass judgement. It is a rules-based system, incorporating timetables for completion of cases. By May 2003, only about one third of the nearly 300 cases had reached the full panel process. The majority having either been notified as settled "out of court" or remain in prolonged consultation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Policy: The WTO in perspective, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2002, www.lse.ac.uk 11 Environmental Foundation Ltd, www.elaw.org/partners/efl 12 Environmental Foundation Ltd, www.elaw.org/partners/efl 13 Case C-149/96, Portugal v Council [1999] ECR I-8395 14 Craig P and De Burca G, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials, 2003, Third Edition, Oxford University Press 15 Craig P and De Burca G, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials, 2003, Third Edition, Oxford University Press 16 Cases 21-24/72, International Fruit Company v Produktschap voor Groenten en Fruit [1972] ECR 1219, 17 Case 104/81, Hauptzollamt Mainz v Kupferberg [1982] ECR 3641 18 Cases 21-24/72, International Fruit Company v Produktschap voor Groenten en Fruit [1972] ECR 1219, 19 Case C-280/93, Germany v Commission [1994] ECR I-4873 20 Craig P and De Burca G, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials, 2003, Third Edition, Oxford University Press 21 Craig P and De Burca G, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials, 2003, Third Edition, Oxford University Press 22 Case C-149/96, Portugal v Council [1999] ECR I-8395 23 Craig P and De Burca G, EU Law, Text, Cases and Materials, 2003, Third Edition, Oxford University Press 24 www.wto.org 25 www.wto.org 26 www.wto.org 27 www.wto.org 28 Van Der Borght K, The Review of the WTO Understanding on Dispute Settlement: Some Reflections on the Current Debate 29 Van Der Borght K, The Review of the WTO Understanding on Dispute Settlement: Some Reflections on the Current Debate 30 www.wto.org 31 www.wto.org 32 www.wto.org 33 www.wto.org 34 www.wto.org 35 www.wto.org 36 www.wto.org 37 www.wto.org 38 Van Der Borght K, The Review of the WTO Understanding on Dispute Settlement: Some Reflections on the Current Debate 39 Van Der Borght K, The Review of the WTO Understanding on Dispute Settlement: Some Reflections on the Current Debate 40 Cameron Jones, Makuch Zen, Sustainable Develop,ment and Integrated Dispute Settlement in the GATT (1993) 41 Sampson GP, The Role of the World Trade Organisation in Global Governance, www.unu.edu/unupress/backlist/ab-wto.html 42 Sampson GP, The Role of the World Trade Organisation in Global Governance, www.unu.edu/unupress/backlist/ab-wto.html 1 ...read more.

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