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World Trade Organization and its Rules for the World :
by Rachel Barron
While the most powerful trade body in the world wheels and deals its way to ever-greater clout, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), developing nations, and environmental and humanitarian activists have maintained a critical stance against the WTO. These groups question just how far the WTO, with its profit-oriented motives, will go to gain global economic stability, and at what cost to people and natural resources.
The WTO was birthed out of a need to gain a firmer legal grasp over the full range of trade issues. Created on January 1, 1995, the WTO encompassed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which dealt with tariff reductions, anti-dumping, and non-tariff measures and expanded the reach of international trade rules to include goods, services and intellectual property.
How the WTO Works
The WTO operates what is called the multilateral trading system. Through this system, agreements bind governments to keep their trade policies within established WTO limits. Agreements are negotiated and signed by WTO members, and ratified in their parliaments. When conflict arises, trade friction is settled by the WTOs dispute process. More than 150 cases have been brought to the WTO since it was founded. The WTO requests that countries settle their differences through consultation. Failing that, they can follow procedures that includes seeking a ruling by a panel of experts and an appeal.
However, WTO tribunals operate
in secret, and once a final WTO ruling is issued, losing countries have
only three choices: change their nations law to conform to the WTO
requirements, pay compensation to the winning country, or face trade sanctions.
The following information and rulings have been gathered from WTO watch groups who want to inform the public of human and environmental rights violations that have at time have led to the veto of a sovereign nations vote.