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World Trade Organization
Organisation mondiale du commerce (in French)
Organización Mundial del Comercio (in Spanish)
World Trade Organization (logo and wordmark).svg
WTO members and observers.svg
  Members
  Members, dually represented by the EU
  Observers
  Non-participant states

Formation1 January 1995; 25 years ago (1995-01-01)
TypeInternational trade organization
PurposeReduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade
HeadquartersCentre William Rappard, Geneva, Switzerland
Coordinates46°13′27″N 06°08′58″E / 46.22417°N 6.14944°E / 46.22417; 6.14944Coordinates: 46°13′27″N 06°08′58″E / 46.22417°N 6.14944°E / 46.22417; 6.14944
Region served
Worldwide
Membership
164 member states[1]
Official languages
English, French, Spanish[2]
Vacant[3]
Budget
197.2 million Swiss francs (approx. 209 million US$) in 2018.[4]
Staff
640[5]
Websitewww.wto.org

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. It is the largest international economic organization in the

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. It is the largest international economic organization in the world.[6][7]

The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments[8]:fol.9–10 and ratified by their parliaments.[9] The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals.[10] Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.[10]

The WTO's current Director-General is Roberto Azevêdo,[11][12] who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland.[13] A trade facilitation agreement, part of the Bali Package of decisions, was agreed by all members on 7 December 2013, the first comprehensive agreement in the organization's history.[14][15] On 23 January 2017, the amendment to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement marks the first time since the organization opened in 1995 that WTO accords have been amended, and this change should secure for developing countries a legal pathway to access affordable remedies under WTO rules.[16]

Studies show that the WTO boosted trade,[17][18][10] and that barriers to trade would be higher in the absence of the WTO.[19] The WTO has highly influenced the text of trade agreements, as "nearly all recent [preferential trade agreements (PTAs)] reference the WTO explicitly, often dozens of times across multiple chapters... in many of these same PTAs we find that substantial portions of treaty language—sometime the majority of a chapter—is copied verbatim from a WTO agreement."[20] The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 also referenced WTO agreements as instruments of reducing inequality.[21]