The IMF, World Bank and the WTO
4. The World Trade Organisation Peter Coffey THE BACKGROUND Rarely in the history of the world has a new international organisation caused such animosity and agitation as has the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Created in 1995, it is the natural but rather different successor to the old GATT. Like its predecessor, it is responsible for organising ‘rounds’ of international trade negotiations and for the administration of a number of treaties.1 Unlike its predecessor, the decisions of the WTO are binding. Its decisions can be appealed via its so-called ‘Appellate Body’, and the decisions of this institution are final and binding. As was widely reported in even the least business, economic and trademinded newspapers, the attempts to launch a new round of trade talks, in Seattle, in 1999, were a glorious failure. But, as will be noted in the next part of this chapter, the writing was already clearly legible on the proverbial wall, well before Seattle. THE ORGANISATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE WTO AND ITS RELATIVE SHORTCOMINGS The major difference between the GATT and the WTO has already been noted. Put succinctly, a member state failing to obtain satisfaction vis-à-vis another member state following a complaint may take retributive action against that state. A similarity, however, between the GATT and the WTO (the old article 24 of the GATT) is the possibility of creating regional trade groupings such as customs unions. Here, as before, members may request compensation for possible trade losses. The USA has done this vis-à-vis the...
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