Tag: GATT

WTO and its Global Administration in International Dispute Resolution

The World Trade Organization came into being in 1995. One of the youngest of the international organizations, the WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) established in the wake of the Second World War. The WTO provides a forum for negotiating agreements aimed at reducing obstacles to international trade and ensuring a level playing field for all, thus contributing to economic growth and development. The WTO also provides a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of these agreements, as well as for settling disputes arising from their interpretation and application. The current body of trade agreements comprising the WTO consists of 16 different multilateral agreements (to which all WTO members are parties) and two different plurilateral agreements (to which only some WTO members are parties).

Over the past 60 years, the WTO, which was established in 1995, and its predecessor organization the GATT have helped to create a strong and prosperous international trading system, thereby contributing to unprecedented global economic growth. The WTO currently has 160 members, of which 117 are developing countries or separate customs territories. Decisions in the WTO are generally taken by consensus of the entire membership. The highest institutional body is the Ministerial Conference, which meets roughly every two years. A General Council conducts the organization’s business in the intervals between Ministerial Conferences. Both of these bodies comprise all members. Specialized subsidiary bodies (Councils, Committees, Sub-committees), also comprising all members, administer and monitor the implementation by members of the various WTO agreements.

National Treatment

The national treatment obligation in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is wider in scope but more limited in application than that in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It is wider in scope because, while national treatment under GATT is concerned with measures affecting products per se, the domain of this obligation in the GATS includes not only measures affecting services products, but also measures affecting service suppliers. It is more limited in application because, while national treatment under the GATT applies across the board, under the GATS it applies only to scheduled sectors, and there too may be subject to limitations. These differences were intended and are well known. An elaboration of the concept of National Treatment would help us gain a better understanding of the reasons behind this approach.