World Trade Organization (WTO) was created by Uruguay Round of Trade negotiations, established 1 January 1995.
Located: Geneva, Switzerland, Rue de Lausanne 154 William Rappard Centre.
WTO Director General – Mr. Roberto Azavedo (since 2013).
Stems from GATT (1947), the predecessor of today’smultilateral trading system, the WTO is a Member-driven rule-based organization, and it currently has the following functions:
- Forum for trade negotiations;
- Administering WTO agreements;
- Handling trade disputes though a specific mechanism;
- Monitoring national trade regimes;
- Cooperation with other international organization (IMF, WB, UNCTAD, OECD, etc);
- Technical assistance and training in the area of WTO policies.
Trade is based on a legal and institutional framework known as «WTO Agreements», the purpose being to ensure smooth trade flows without negative side effects.
WTO has its Secretariat, though Ministerial Conference is the highest institutional body, General Council being an authorized body in between Ministerial Conferences, performing also a function of Dispute Settlement Body.
Fundamental WTO principles:
- Most-favored-nation treatment;
- National treatment;
- Lowering trade barriers;
- Transparency and predictability through binding character of the agreements reached;
- Promoting fair competition;
- Promoting development and economic growth.
In November 2001 in Doha, Qatar WTO Members agreed to launch a new round of trade negotiations, today known as Doha Development Agenda (DDA). The Doha mandate included 21 trade topics, among them the following:
- Market access for NAMA (non-agricultural products);
- Trade and investment;
- Trade and competition;
- Trade facilitation;
- Transparency in government procurement;
- WTO rules;
- Dispute settlement understanding;
- Trade and environment;
- Electronic commerce;
- Least developed countries;
- Special and differentiated treatment;
- Technical cooperation and capacity building.
The plan was to finish the round by 1 January 2005, the deadline missed. End of 2006 is another missed deadline. Members have suspended negotiations and resumed them by immense personal effort of DG Lami in 2007.
By this time - no agreement reached yet, agriculture being among the most sensitive aspects. The reason is that the developing Members are seeking more concessions and flexibilities from the developed Members.
All Members express their engagement and readiness to work towards finding a real compromise and close the deal.
At the WTO Ninth Ministerial Conference, held in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 7 December 2013, ministers adopted the “Bali Package”, a series of decisions aimed at streamlining trade, allowing developing countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed countries’ trade and helping development more generally.
The Bali Package consists of two following parts:
1) Decisions adopted within the Doha Development Round:
- Agreement on Trade Facilitation;
- A package of decisions on agriculture;
- Decision on cotton;
- A package of decisions on development and LDC issues.
2) Decisions adopted within the WTO General Council:
- TRIPS Non-violation and Situation Complaints;
- Work Programme on Electronic Commerce;
- Work Programme on Small Economies;
- Aid for Trade;
- Trade and Transfer of Technology;
A key achievement of the WTO Ninth Ministerial Conference is the adoption of a new multilateral Agreement on Trade Facilitation, which is intended to systematize and simplify the customs procedures, including documents exchange, enhance control measures transparency, facilitate trade in general and improve competitiveness of small and medium business in particular.
Ukraine is interested in Agreement’s entering into force as soon as possible and harmonization of national legislations of the WTO Member States with its provisions.
On November 27, 2014 during a special session of the WTO General Council members approved the Decision on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes, the Decision on the Protocol of Amendment to insert the Trade Facilitation Agreement into Annex 1A of the WTO Agreement and the Decision on Post-Bali work to prepare the implementation of the decisions of the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference as well as the preparation of the DDA resumption.
On December 10, 2014 the General Council agreed that the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference be held in Nairobi, Kenya from 15 to 18 December 2015.
The official WTO web-site www.wto.org provides an access to trade-related information and data on each Member of the Organization.
Ukraine and WTO
Ukrainehad been in the accession process for 14 years, one of the longest negotiations in the WTO. It became the 153-th full-fledged Member 16 May 2008.
Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, explains that «any State … may accede to this Agreement, on terms to be agreed between it and the WTO». So first and foremost Ukraine had to go in long rounds of tough trade negotiations with all Working Party members, as a result Ukraine negotiated and signed 52 bilateral Protocols, and the Working Party Report was jointly prepared by inputs made by Members and mainly by Ukraine. This made full accession package adopted 5 February 2008 by the General Council and signed by the President of Ukraine V. Yushchenko and WTO Director General Pascal Lami.
On 10 April 2008 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Law of Ukraine No. 250-VI «On Ratification of the Protocol of Accession of Ukraine to the World Trade Organization»
WTO membership is viewed by Ukraine as an instrument to integrate into the world economy and trade, stimulate efficiency of domestic industries. In reforming its trade policies to be in line with the WTO Ukraine seek to ensure:
- To cut the list of economic activities for which licenses or different permits are needed;
- To decrease the level of interference of state in the businesses;
- Legislative delineation of controlling bodies and elimination of duplication of their functions.
Ukraine in the WTO expect to have liberalized access to world markets for its products, increased investment in Ukraine, access to WTO dispute settlement mechanism, which would allow defend trade interests of Ukraine. Ukraine has now a rightful instrument for predictability in the area of technical regulation and sanitary and phyto - sanitary measure taken by other Members. It also serves a good ground for creation of the free trade area with the European Union, these talks officially started in February 2008.
Official documents on Ukraine’s accession and commitments signed can be retrieved from data base at the www.wto.org.