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 organisation created by an international treaty ratified hy 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 organisation 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.
Organisational Structure of the WTO
The organisational structure of WTO comprises the following
(i) Ministerial Conference It is the highest organ of the WTO and is to meet atleast once every two years. It is normally composed of all the Ministers of Trade of the Members of the WTO.
(ii) General Council It is composed of representatives of all the members—normally country delegates based in Geneva. The General Council is in session between the meetings of the Ministerial Council. In essence this is the real engine of the WTO and has all the powers of the Ministerial Council when that body is not in operation.
(iii) Council for Trade in Goods/Council for Trade in Services Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) This have been established with specific spheres of responsibility. In fact, there are separate agreements within the framework of WTO . that define and confine their operations.
(iv) Committee on Trade and Development/Committee on Balance of Payments Restrictions/Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration They have self-evident functions likewise the Director-General and the Secretariat operate on a purely administrative basis. However, it should be stated that the Director-General and the staff of the Secretariat shall be exclusively international in character any they shall not seek or accept instructions from any government or any other authority external to the WTO.
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 v 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).