while the WTO is still young, the multilateral trading system that was
originally set up under GATT is well over 50 years old.
past 50 years have seen an exceptional growth in world trade. Merchandise
exports grew on average by 6% annually. Total trade in 2000 was 22-times
the level of 1950. GATT and the WTO have helped to create a strong and
prosperous trading system contributing to unprecedented growth.
system was developed through a series of trade negotiations, or rounds,
held under GATT. The first rounds dealt mainly with tariff reductions but
later negotiations included other areas such as anti-dumping and
non-tariff measures. The last round — the 1986-94 Uruguay Round — led
to the WTO’s creation.
negotiations did not end there. Some continued after the end of the
Uruguay Round. In February 1997 agreement was reached on
telecommunications services, with 69 governments agreeing to wide-ranging
liberalization measures that went beyond those agreed in the Uruguay
the same year 40 governments successfully concluded negotiations for
tariff-free trade in information technology products, and 70 members
concluded a financial services deal covering more than 95% of trade in
banking, insurance, securities and financial information.
2000, new talks started on agriculture and services. These have now been
incorporated into a broader agenda launched at the fourth WTO Ministerial
Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001.
work programme, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), adds negotiations and other work on non-agricultural tariffs, trade
and environment, WTO rules such as anti-dumping and subsidies, investment,
competition policy, trade facilitation, transparency in government
procurement, intellectual property, and a range of issues raised by
developing countries as difficulties they face in implementing the present
deadline for the negotiations is 1 January 2005.
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