World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Posted: 23 May 2002

The World Trade Organisation, formed in 1995, is the international body which governs world trade. It does this through a series of agreements, or rules, which are negotiated between its members. A series of trade negotiations is called a 'round' (e.g. the 'Uruguay Round', which was launched in Uruguay in 1986).

The four main agreements are the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS).

The members of the WTO are drawn from countries across the world. They currently number 144 (as of April 2002), with others applying to join. The WTO's highest decision-making body is the Ministerial Council, which meets at least once every two years.