The WTO Secretariat is organized into divisions. These are normally headed by a director who reports to a Deputy Director-General or directly to the Director-General.

WTO Secretariat

Accessions Division

The work of the division is to facilitate the negotiations between WTO members and states and entities requesting accession to the WTO by encouraging their integration into the multilateral trading system through the effective liberalization of their trade regimes in goods and services; and to act as a focal point in widening the scope and geographical coverage of the WTO. There are at present nearly 30 accession working parties in operation.


Administration and General Services Division

The Administration and General Services Division is responsible for providing administrative and general services geared to meet the needs of the Secretariat and WTO members. Its responsibilities encompass budgetary, financial, travel, procurement, facility and pension management. In addition, the division ensures the safety and security of the staff and buildings occupied by the Secretariat. The division also services the needs of WTO members by supporting the work of the Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration.


Agriculture and Commodities Division

The division handles all matters related to the ongoing negotiations on agriculture. Furthermore, the division provides support in the implementation of the existing WTO rules and commitments on agriculture, including by ensuring that the process for multilaterally reviewing these commitments by the Committee on Agriculture is organized and conducted in an efficient manner. The work of the division encompasses to facilitate implementation of the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, including by servicing the SPS Committee. Other activities of the division include support for the implementation of the Ministerial Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries; dealing with matters related to trade in fisheries and forestry products as well as natural resource-based products; providing services for dispute settlement in the area of agriculture and SPS; providing technical assistance in all areas under its purview; and cooperation with other international organizations and the private sector.

The Division houses and manages the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF), a global partnership to strengthen SPS capacity in developing and least developed countries. The STDF operates as a knowledge platform and funding mechanism and supports the development and delivery of SPS projects on the ground. The WTO is one of the founding partners of the STDF, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO).


Council and Trade Negotiations Committee Division

The Council and Trade Negotiations Committee Division provides support to the Ministerial Conference, the General Council, the Trade Negotiations Committee and the Dispute Settlement Body. It is responsible for ensuring the efficient management of all formal, informal and other consultative meetings of these bodies and coordinating follow-up activities. It provides advice and support to the Director-General and chairs of these bodies (and other members of senior management) in connection with their responsibilities in these areas, and prepares and circulates the WTO publication Basic Instruments and Selected Documents. The division also coordinates work of the WTO Conference Office in the scheduling of formal, informal and consultative meetings of WTO bodies, symposia, workshops and seminars organized under the auspices of WTO bodies and operational divisions of the WTO Secretariat.


Delivery Unit

The Delivery Unit works closely with the Director-General and with divisions across the Secretariat to better support members in their efforts to reach concrete outcomes at the 12th Ministerial Conference and beyond.

Key areas of activity include working with relevant divisions in developing an effective WTO response to the COVID-19 pandemic, fisheries subsidies, dispute settlement, agriculture, development including least-developed countries (LDCs) issues, and a more coordinated approach to discussing WTO reform issues as well as the joint statement initiatives.


Development Division

The Development Division is the focal point for all policy issues related to trade and development. The division monitors and provides input to senior management and the WTO Secretariat as a whole on issues relating to trade and development, including the participation of developing countries — especially least-developed countries (LDCs) — in the multilateral trading system.

The division services the Committee on Trade and Development in regular session as well as its dedicated session on small and vulnerable economies, and its special sessions on special and differential treatment. The division services the Sub-Committee on LDCs. It also serves the Working Group on Trade and Transfer of Technology. In addition, it facilitates the meetings of the African Group, the LDC Group and the Informal Group of Developing Countries.

The division is also responsible for coordinating the Aid for Trade initiative, which aims to help developing countries, particularly LDCs, build trade-related skills and the infrastructure needed to expand their trading opportunities. The aim of the initiative is to create closer cooperation in national capitals between trade, finance and development officials and to engage international and regional inter-governmental organizations and donors active in building trade capacity to address national and regional Aid for Trade needs.

The Development Division also serves as the focal point for the WTO's participation in the enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), including in its governing bodies, the EIF Board and the EIF Steering Committee. The WTO is one of the core EIF agencies and works with other international agencies, donors and other development partners to respond to the trade development needs of LDCs.


Economic Research and Statistics Division

The Economic Research and Statistics Division provides economic analysis and research in support of the WTO’s operational activities, including monitoring and reporting on current economic news and developments. It carries out economic research on broader policy-related topics in connection with the WTO’s work programme, as well as on other WTO-related topics of interest to delegations arising from the on-going integration of the world economy, the spread of market-oriented reforms, and the increased importance of economic issues in relations between countries. The division prepares the “World Trade Report”, an annual publication that aims to deepen understanding about trends in trade, trade policy issues and the multilateral trading system. The division cooperates with other international organizations and the academic community through conferences, seminars and courses; prepares special research projects on policy-related topics in the area of international trade; and prepares briefings to senior management. It is responsible for the “coherence” mandate with other international organizations, including in relation to linkages between trade and finance, and for the Working Group on Trade, Debt and Finance.

On the statistics side, the division supports WTO members and the Secretariat with quantitative information in relation to economic and trade policy issues. The division is the principal supplier of WTO trade statistics through the annual “International Trade Statistics” and via the Internet and Intranet. The division is responsible for the maintenance and development of the Integrated Data Base (IDB) and the Consolidated Tariff Schedules (CTS) which supports the Market Access Committee’s information requirements in relation to tariffs. The division’s statisticians also provide members with technical assistance in relation to the IDB-CTS databases. The division plays an active role in strengthening cooperation and collaboration between international organizations in the field of merchandise and services trade statistics, ensuring that WTO requirements with respect to the concepts and standards underpinning the international statistical system are met.


Human Resources Division

The Human Resources Division is responsible for the human resources management of over 700 WTO staff members (regular and temporary). The division's responsibilities include division restructuring, performance management, development and training (in areas such as management development and interpersonal skills), workforce planning, recruitment and selection, career management (including internal career mobility), management of staff benefits and entitlements, and staff counselling. The central aim of the division is to respond to the evolving needs of the WTO, aligning the workforce with the needs of the organization.


Information Technology Solutions Division

The Information Technology Solutions Division ensures the efficient operation of the WTO's information technology (IT) infrastructure as well as the development and support of the necessary systems to cover the needs of WTO members and the WTO Secretariat. In response to changing needs and fast-evolving technology, the division performs the necessary research and work needed to constantly enhance IT services and procedures, to comply with the core mandate of the organization and to better facilitate the dissemination of information to WTO members and the public through the Internet and specialized databases. The division also ensures the efficient operation of the IT and communication infrastructure for special events such as Ministerial Conferences.

The division supports a complex desktop and network environment and provides a multitude of services (ERP, Office Automation, E-mail, Intranet, Internet, Web and Client/Server System Development, Telecommuting, IT Training, IT Asset Management, Video Conferencing, etc.). This includes implementation and regular revision of the IT security policy. The division also provides IT expertise regarding the creation and upgrading of WTO Reference Centres in the capitals of developing and least-developed countries and participates in technical cooperation missions.


Information and External Relations Division

The Information and External Relations Division communicates information about the World Trade Organization to a variety of audiences. This is made available through the WTO web site, an extensive publications programme and regular briefings aimed at specific audiences, such as journalists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and students.

The division organizes an annual Public Forum, which is the major opportunity for governments, NGOs, academics, businesses and students to come together to discuss issues regarding the multilateral trading system. The division works closely with counterparts in other international governmental organizations and regional bodies, such as the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is also responsible for official relations with WTO members, including protocol matters, in close liaison with the Office of the Director-General.


Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation

Trade-related technical assistance is the WTO's contribution to the functioning of the Aid for Trade Initiative, which aims to help developing, least-developed countries and other low-income transition economies to mainstream trade into their national economic development plans and strategies. The Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC) designs, coordinates and implements trade-related technical assistance activities. With support across the WTO Secretariat, the ITTC delivers specific technical assistance products as mandated by WTO members in the regularly updated Technical Assistance and Training Plans. These plans focus on strengthening the ability of beneficiaries to understand their rights and obligations within the multilateral trading system, to take full advantage of the rules-based system, to participate effectively in trade negotiations, and to develop, on a long-term basis, their capacity to adjust to WTO rules and disciplines.


Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division

The Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division is responsible for the WTO's work in trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS), government procurement and competition policy (it should be noted that substantive work in the latter area in the WTO has been on hold since 2004). In the TRIPS area, the Division provides service to the TRIPS Council and to dispute settlement panels, services any negotiations that may be launched on intellectual property matters and provides assistance to WTO members through technical cooperation, including in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other relevant international organizations, and through the provision of information/advice more generally. It also maintains and develops lines of communication with other intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, intellectual property practitioners and the academic community. In the area of government procurement, the Division services the Committee established under the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement and dispute settlement panels that may arise, in addition to providing technical cooperation and information/advice more generally to WTO members. In the area of competition policy, the Division monitors developments at the international level and would be responsible for any further work in the WTO Working Group on the Interaction between Trade and Competition Policy, in the event that that body should resume its work.


Division for Knowledge and Information Management, Academic Outreach and the WTO Chairs Programme (KMD)

The Division for Knowledge and Information Management, Academic Outreach and the WTO Chairs Programme (KMD) develops and coordinates WTO knowledge information management policies and is responsible for academic outreach activities with universities including in the context of the WTO Chairs Programme. 

Knowledge management concerns the process of sharing, using and preserving the knowledge of an organization through which the organization's objectives are achieved by making the best use of knowledge and filling knowledge gaps. The KMD is responsible for developing and implementing knowledge management policies focusing on: a systematic approach to knowledge and information sharing among staff through networks across teams and divisions including IT platforms; knowledge transfer through recording and transferring expertise and specialized know-how and processes, especially in the case of staff departures or mobility.

The information management strategy concerns the life cycle of information, from creation, acquisition through dissemination and transmission, to preservation and archiving. The KMD's information management services initially comprise: (a) the WTO library, which provides access to a wide range of electronic and print resources including online catalogues and references services; and (b) the records and archives management services, which is responsible for custody and control of the WTO's physical and electronic data, records and informational assets, by managing access, retention, storage, preservation and disposition of those assets.

The KMD is also responsible for academic outreach activities including the WTO Chairs Programme (WCP), which focuses on: trade research projects; teaching curricula; and outreach activities by universities particularly in developing countries. This includes the launch of the WCP's third phase of selecting universities for inclusion in the programme, with special emphasis on fostering relevance of research to policymakers and academic networks between universities. The KMD also deals with the Ph.D. fellowship programmes and WTO moot court competitions, and coordinates WTO participation in academic conferences, seminars and other events to enhance cooperation with academia.


Language and Documentation Services Division

The Language and Documentation Services Division (LDSD) provides services such as meeting interpretation, translation and publication of documents, graphic design and printing for publications and events, and registry of notifications from WTO members.

Many of these services, such as the Central Registry of Notifications and the “Documents Online” database of official WTO documents, are provided to WTO members, observers and the public through the Internet. LDSD ensures that WTO documents, publications and other materials are available in the WTO's three working languages — English, French and Spanish — both in hard copy and in electronic form.


Legal Affairs Division

The principal mission of the Legal Affairs Division is to provide legal advice and information to WTO dispute settlement panels, other WTO bodies, WTO members and the WTO Secretariat. The division’s responsibilities include assisting members in the composition of dispute settlement panels, providing timely secretarial and technical support and legal assistance to WTO dispute settlement panels, providing legal advice to the Dispute Settlement Body and its Chairman on the operation of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, and providing legal advice to the Director-General, the Secretariat and members on all WTO agreements and on other legal issues as they may arise. Other responsibilities include advising the Director-General on administrative law issues related to the operation of the WTO and the Secretariat, providing legal information to WTO members and preparing legal publications relating to the WTO dispute settlement system, and providing legal support in respect of accessions. The division also provides training regarding dispute settlement procedures and WTO legal issues through special courses on dispute settlement, regular WTO training courses and WTO technical cooperation missions. On behalf of the Secretariat, representatives from the division attend meetings of other international organizations concerning international legal issues and attend international conferences on dispute settlement and other legal matters of relevance to the WTO.


Market Access Division

The Market Access Division is responsible for assisting WTO Members in implementing some of the most traditional Agreements of the GATT-WTO multilateral trading system. It ensures the smooth functioning of the Council for Trade in Goods, the Committee on Market Access, the Committee of Participants to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), the Committee on Customs Valuation and Pre-Shipment Inspection, the Committee on Import Licensing Procedures and the Committee on Rules of Origin. The Division also supports Members in their Doha Development Agenda negotiations on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA). It further deals with all matters relating to Trade Facilitation. This includes work in the Preparatory Committee as well as a series of technical assistance and capacity building initiatives under the Trade Facilitation Agreement Facility.

In carrying out these responsibilities, the Division strives to constitute a hub of knowledge and institutional memory regarding the topics handled by these WTO bodies. As such, it manages databases on tariff renegotiations (GATT Article XXVIII), on quantitative restrictions and on national legislation on import licensing. It also conducts research and assists other divisions of the Secretariat whenever expertise on these topics is sought, for instance in the context of dispute settlement cases and of technical assistance activities. In conducting its activities, the Division collaborates with other institutions, such as the World Customs Organization, the World Bank, the OECD, UNCTAD and the IMF.

Office of Internal Oversight

The Office of Internal Oversight (“OIO”) was established in November 2015 to provide for a professional, independent, objective and documented assessment, through all appropriate means, of management practices, expenses, budgetary control and allegations of misconduct in all its forms at the WTO.

The OIO is responsible to conduct Internal Audits, Investigations and any other assessment deemed necessary to strengthen accountability, internal controls, compliance, value for money and governance in the WTO Secretariat.


Rules Division

The role of the division is to ensure the smooth functioning of all WTO bodies serviced by the division. This includes facilitating new and on-going negotiations and consultations, monitoring and actively assisting in the implementation of WTO agreements in the areas of anti-dumping, subsidies and countervailing measures, safeguards, trade-related investment measures, state-trading and civil aircraft. It also includes providing all necessary implementation assistance, counselling and expert advice to WTO members concerning the above agreements, providing secretaries and legal officers to WTO dispute settlement panels involving these agreements and participating in the WTO technical assistance programme.

The bodies serviced by the Rules Division include the Negotiating Group on Rules, the Committee on Anti-Dumping Practices, the Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Committee on Safeguards, the Committee on Trade-Related Investment Measures, the Committee on Trade in Civil Aircraft, the Working Party on State-Trading Enterprises, the Permanent Group of Experts of the Subsidies Agreement as well as the Informal Group on Anti-Circumvention and the Working Group on Implementation, both concerning the Agreement on Anti-Dumping.


Trade and Environment Division

The division provides service and support to WTO committees dealing with trade and environment and technical barriers to trade. For Trade and Environment, it supports the work of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) by providing technical assistance to WTO members; reporting to senior management and WTO members on discussions in other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), including negotiation and implementation of trade-related measures in multilateral environmental agreements. The division maintains contacts and dialogue with NGOs and the private sector on issues of mutual interest in the area of trade and environment.

The Trade and Environment Division also services the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). This includes the review of proposed or adopted TBT measures notified and/or discussed in the TBT Committee (referred to as “specific trade concerns”) as well as cross-cutting work on strengthening the effective implementation of the TBT Agreement, including through the development of agreed recommendations and guidelines. The Division regularly provides TBT-related technical assistance to developing country Members and Observers and collaborates with other Divisions regarding aspects related to standards and regulations in accessions, trade policy reviews, negotiations (NAMA NTB), research reports and dispute panels. The Division also conducts outreach activities targeting international/regional/non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector, including on issues related to trade, health and the environment. The Division has developed and maintains a publicly available information management system ( for all TBT notifications and specific trade concerns. 


Trade in Services and Investment Division

The Trade in Services and Investment Division provides support and technical advice to WTO members on the implementation of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and on further negotiations mandated by the Agreement. It performs this role by supporting the Council for Trade in Services (both in regular and special session) as well as other bodies established under the GATS. These include the Committee on Financial Services, the Committee on Specific Commitments, the Working Party on Domestic Regulation, and the Working Party on GATS Rules. Within the WTO Secretariat, the division provides information and advice to the Director-General and senior management on trade in services as well as support to relevant dispute settlement panels.

Other work includes providing technical cooperation to WTO members, undertaking research on trade in services, cooperating with other international organizations on services-related projects, participating in public outreach activities and providing public information on the GATS through various forms of media. The division also assists other bodies in the WTO on matters relating to services, such as the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (in its work relating to Article V of the GATS and the RTA transparency mechanism), the Trade Policy Review Body and various accession working parties.


Trade Policies Review Division

The Trade Policies Review Division has several areas of responsibility. One is to support the work of the Director-General and WTO members under the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (Annex 3 of the WTO Agreement), which includes preparing periodic reports on members' trade policies, servicing meetings of the Trade Policy Review Body at which reviews of members' policies are carried out, and preparing regular reports by the Director-General on trade policy developments including an Annual Overview Developments in the International Trading Environment on behalf of the Director-General. The division is also responsible for providing Secretariat support to the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements and the Committee on Balance-of-Payments Restrictions, and for servicing the Doha Round Negotiating Group on Rules related to regional trade agreements.



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Distribution of staff positions within the WTO's various divisions