The World Trade Organization is the sole global body that deals with fairness in trade among nations. It designs rules to ensure that large economies and small economies are at par in economic growth. However, its policies and propositions are not popular with most nations. It aims to facilitate demand and supply by ensuring that producers of goods and services find a way to export their products and those that do not produce find a way to import what they need.
Through its membership, the World Trade Organization facilitates two major world forums. The Doha Development Agenda is a trade negotiations forum. It is designed to achieve groundbreaking reforms in the manner in which world economies conduct their trade. The forum’s agenda is to inject revised rules and to improve the international trade system through the systematic introduction of minimal trade restrictions.
It was officially launched in Qatar in 2001. Ministers of respective countries tasked with commerce, trade, and sometimes finance attend the forum. Each minister goes to the table to air their countries’ views. The Doha development agenda covers around 20 critical areas of the world economy, which include agriculture, services, imports, exports, intellectual property, among others.
World Trade Organization’s advocacy for free global trade has not been popular with the majority of the nations. Although free trade has many benefits as opposed to closed trade, many countries perceive free trade negatively and bring down any attempts at making the world economy free of national and regional barriers. For example, in 2003 during the talks that were held in Caucun Mexico, the world witnessed massive protests. This was the third ministerial meeting with the same agenda: trying to break the deadlock that had been experienced in the last two sittings since the first round in Qatar.
The second major forum facilitated by the World Trade Organization is the World Trade Forum. This forum seeks common ground on how countries can work together in tackling common global problems that go beyond the need for economic integration. This includes the need for development in major areas such as education. Major economies and their leaders normally attend it. They review goals and targets such as millennium development goals. This forum is generalist compared to the Doha round of negotiations. However, it is important to note that they both champion a more developed world, which caters to the need of everyone. The following principles guide WTO.
- Principle of Non-Discrimination: It requires a WTO member to apply similar trade conditions while transacting with all WTO members. It simply implies that the WTO members should favorably treat others. Also, if a favor is extended to one member of the WTO in a certain transaction, similar treatment should happen to any other WTO member in case of a similar transaction.
- Reciprocity: This principle advocates for nations to do mutual things to each other. For example, the reduction of transaction tariffs should be mutual and equal in measure. Markets should be freer on both sides of the spectrum. Barriers restricting such trade should effectively come down to enable more trading for mutual growth and benefits.
- Predictability: World Trade Organization proposes that any agreements arrived at should be binding and long-term. Any member should not decide arbitrarily to change any terms or conditions. This gives confidence to members, investors, governments, and any other stakeholders.
- Beneficial to Less Developed Countries: This is a critical principle. However, in recent times and the past many developed countries have misused this principle. It proposes that underdeveloped countries should enjoy special privileges when dealing with economically strong economies. This will enable them to enjoy greater visibility and flexibility in the marketplace.
- Competitive and Fair: The WTO strongly advises that a fair and level playing field should exist for all nations. Every country should fairly compete and universal human standards upheld. It discourages unorthodox practices such as arbitrary dumping of obsolete products to third world countries.
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