An introduction to the World Trade Organization
Published by a LexisNexis International Trade expert
Last updated on 03/11/2021

The following International Trade practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • An introduction to the World Trade Organization
  • What is the World Trade Organization?
  • Trade in goods
  • Trade in services
  • Trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights
  • Other annexes and agreements relevant to trade in goods and services
  • Dispute settlement
  • Trade Policy Review Mechanism
  • Plurilateral agreements
  • Negotiations
  • More...

An introduction to the World Trade Organization

What is the World Trade Organization?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides the institutional and legal framework for trade between Member States. As such it administers the agreements agreed by Member States of the WTO. In addition, it also settles disputes among Member States, monitors Member States’ compliance with the various agreements and functions as a negotiating forum for all manner of trade related issues.

The WTO had its inception on 1 January 1995, but its history dates to 1948 when, the General agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1947 (GATT 1947) was agreed. Over numerous subsequent rounds of negotiations, in 1994, Member States agreed, in Marrakesh, to the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (Marrakesh Agreement).

The Marrakesh Agreement established the WTO and provides the institutional and legal framework for the multilateral trading system. There are also four annexes to the Marrakesh Agreement which are complemented by certain decisions and declarations. In total the legal texts consist of over 60 agreements, annexes, decisions, declarations and understandings.

Annex 1 to the Marrakesh Agreement is arguably the most important of the annexes since it contains all the current multilateral agreements regulating different aspects of trade. There are three annexes dealing with:

  1. trade in goods (Annex 1a)

  2. trade in services (Annex 1b), and

  3. trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (Annex 1c)

Each of these annexes

Related documents:
Key definition:
Disputes definition
What does Disputes mean?

There is a tPR Code of Practice on dispute management and regulation.

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