he World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization designed by its founders to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1947.

The World Trade Organization deals with regulation of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and formalising trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round (1986-1994).

The organization is currently endeavouring to persist with a trade negotiation called the Doha Development Agenda (or Doha Round), which was launched in 2001 to enhance equitable participation of poorer countries which represent a majority of the world's population. However, the negotiation has been dogged by "disagreement between exporters of agricultural bulk commodities and countries with large numbers of subsistence farmers on the precise terms of a 'special safeguard measure' to protect farmers from surges in imports. At this time, the future of the Doha Round is uncertain."

The WTO has 153 members, representing more than 95% of total world trade[8] and 30 observers, most seeking membership. The WTO is governed by a ministerial conference, meeting every two years; a general council, which implements the conference's policy decisions and is responsible for day-to-day administration; and a director-general, who is appointed by the ministerial conference. The WTO's headquarters is at the Centre William Rappard, Geneva, Switzerland.

Australian Court OKs Tobacco Pack Logo Ban

From December 1, cigarettes and tobacco products in Australia must be sold in plain olive green packets with graphic health warnings, such as pictures of mouth cancer and other smoking-related illnesses.

US Wins WTO Case Over China Bank Card Monopoly

A World Trade Organization panel ruled Monday that China had discriminated against U.S. bank card suppliers in favor of a state-owned enterprise, a decision U.S. card issuers hope could level the playing field and open up new opportunities to China's $1 trillion electronic payments market.

EU Sues Argentina For 'Protectionism' As Trade Row Deepens

The European Union has filed a suit with the World Trade Organization against Argentina?s import restrictions, raising the dispute between the EU and the South American nation only weeks after Buenos Aires nationalized Spanish oil firm Repsol?s subsidiary in the country.

US Work Visa Law: India To Move WTO

India will file a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization against the US over its visa policy, which India says is discriminatory to Indian companies, the Wall Street Journal has reported quoting a Ministry of Commerce official.

Mexico GDP May Grow Faster Than Expected, U.N. Official Predicts

The head of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean Alicia Barcena suggested Wednesday that Mexico’s 2012 GDP growth could be higher than expected due to the pace of recovery in the United States and Mexico’s open economic policies relative to other countries in the region.

WTO Warns Global Trade Will Shrink Again In 2012

Trade growth is expected to slow for a second year in 2012 amid severe downside risks that could push it even further below the 20-year average of 5.4 percent, the Geneva-based body forecast Thursday.

Russia Trade Bill No 'Slam Dunk': GOP's Kyl

A senior Republican senator on Thursday warned the White House that passing legislation to bolster trade relations with Russia won't be a slam dunk because of concerns over that country's record on human rights and foreign policy actions.

EU, US, Japan Launch Rare Earth WTO Case Against China

The European Union, United States and Japan formally asked the World Trade Organization on Tuesday to settle a dispute with China over Beijing's restriction on exports of raw materials, including rare earth elements critical to major industries.

WTO Judges Fault Boeing Subsidies: Sources

The World Trade Organization has broadly upheld a ruling that Boeing Co (BA.N) took billions of dollars of unfair subsidies, breathing new life into an epic trade spat that has already faulted European aid to Airbus, people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. Tech Groups Alarmed by India Purchasing Plan

Leading software and technology companies on Wednesday pressed President Barack Obama's administration for quick action on a new Indian government policy that they said threatens exports to the fast-growing economy.

China Lambasts U.S. Trade Bill, Won't Adjust Yuan

A U.S. trade bill targeting Chinese imports goes against international rules and Beijing will not adjust the value of its currency to try to bridge a trade deficit that is Washington's problem to fix, China's commerce minister said on Wednesday.

Obama Creates Trade Enforcement Unit

President Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Tuesday creating a new trade enforcement agency to ensure the nation's trading partners, namely China, play fair.

Obama to Sign Order Creating Trade Enforcement Unit

President Barack Obama, following through on a promise to beef up enforcement of trade agreements, on Tuesday will sign an executive order creating a new government team to make sure China and others play by the rules, the White House said.

China Rare Earths Safe from WTO Ruling on Export Curbs

A World Trade Organisation ruling against China's restrictions on raw material exports could force changes to some of its rare earth policies but is unlikely to yield the boost in exports of the metals that consumers want to see.