The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a global body made up of 164 nations (in 2017) to supervise and encourage international trade.


The WTO officially began on 1 January 1995. Its headquarters are on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was formed out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which was established in the aftermath of World War II.


The purpose of the WTO is to help trade throughout the world flow smoothly and predictably through its trade agreements – a fair method to resolve trade disputes without resorting to violence or war.


The highest authority of the WTO is its Ministerial Conference composed of the representatives of all WTO members. It is required to meet every two years and can make decisions on all matters under any of the multilateral trade agreements. Individual countries ratify the rules of the WTO in their own parliaments. These rules therefore apply to local companies conducting business in the international arena.


China became a member of the WTO in 2012 and Russia joined the WTO in 2012 after 18 years of negotiations.


Opposition to the WTO comes from critics who say the after-effects of WTO policies are undemocratic and interfere with a country's regulations to protect its industry, workers or environment.


What is the future of the WTO?
The United States has threatened to withdraw from the WTO, calling it a 'disaster'. If the U.S. were to withdraw, trillions of dollars in global trade would be disrupted. If the U.S. and other countries strengthen their protectionist stance on trade, the future of the WTO remains complex and unclear.


Source: Investopedia, The Economist.



The information in this article has been taken from several reliable sources but does not necessarily reflect the views of UBT.  No short article can cover a topic completely; it is not intended that you should rely on this information for business decisions.