The system, known as the multilateral trading system, is centered on WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by a large majority of the world`s economies and ratified by their parliaments. Many commissions, working groups and working groups deal with the various agreements and other areas such as environment, development, applications for membership and regional trade agreements. Decisions are taken by the whole of membership. This is usually done by consensus. Majority decision-making is also possible, but has never been used in the WTO and was extremely rare under the WTO`s predecessor, GATT. WTO agreements have been ratified in all parliaments. In recent years, negotiations on these and other issues have resulted in important updates to WTO rules. A revised agreement on government procurement, which was signed in 2011 at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference expanded the scope of the original agreement by about $100 billion a year. A WTO Committee on Trade and Development addresses the specific needs of developing countries. Its responsibilities include the implementation of WTO agreements, technical cooperation and the increased participation of developing countries in the global trading system.
These agreements form the legal basis of world trade. These are essentially treaties that guarantee WTO members important trade rights. They also require governments to maintain their trade policies that are transparent and predictable, which benefits everyone. The WTO`s trade dispute settlement procedure under the Dispute Settlement Agreement is essential for the application of the rules and thus for ensuring a smooth flow of trade. Governments bring disputes before the WTO if they believe their rights are violated by WTO agreements. The judgements of specially appointed independent experts are based on interpretations of each member`s agreements and obligations. The system encourages members to resolve their differences through consultation. If this proves unsuccessful, they may conduct a step-by-step procedure, which involves the possibility of a judgment by a panel of experts and the possibility of appealing the judgment for legal reasons.
Confidence in the system is confirmed by the number of cases filed with the WTO in more than 500 cases since the creation of the WTO, compared to the 300 disputes dealt with throughout the duration of the GATT (1947-1994). The Uruguay Round created new rules for trade in services and intellectual property, as well as new dispute settlement procedures. The complete package comprises about 30,000 pages, consisting of about thirty separate agreements and commitments (called calendars) entered into by individual members in certain areas such as lower tariffs and opening the market to services. By removing trade barriers through negotiations between member governments, the WTO system also removes other barriers between peoples and trading economies. The WTO`s Trade Policy Review Mechanism aims to improve transparency, better understand and assess the impact of trade policies adopted by WTO members. Many members view these assessments as constructive feedback on their policies. All WTO members must be subject to regular review, with each review containing reports from the member concerned and the WTO secretariat. In addition, the WTO regularly monitors global trade measures. Originally initiated by the 2008 financial crisis, this global trade surveillance has become a regular function of the WTO with the aim of highlighting the implementation by WTO members of both trade-restrictive and trade-restrictive measures. .