16 May 2006

WTO makes public all official GATT documents

The WTO has decided to make public all official documents issued under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) during the period 1947-1995. “Providing access to these historic documents is a further sign of the WTO's commitment to transparency. This will be especially important for academics, trade specialists and others with an interest in how the trading system evolved in the GATT era, from 1947 to 1995”, said WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy.

Some 39,000 of these documents are already in the public domain. The Decision of the WTO's General Council of 15 May 2006 means that some further 49,000 documents that still remain restricted will be made public starting 1 June 2006 .

The WTO Secretariat is currently developing a database to house these documents and will make all materials available progressively. Many of the documents exist only in paper copies and will need to be scanned to create electronic versions As of 1 June 2006, all documents relating to the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations will be available on the WTO website (ca. 4,000 documents). In July, an additional 32,000 documents will be posted. The remainder will be added progressively as they are scanned and controlled for quality.

The WTO website currently offers public access to over 150,000 WTO official documents in English, French and Spanish from 1995 to the present. The addition of GATT documents from 1947 to 1995 will be a complement to the WTO collection.