THE MULTILATERAL TRADING SYSTEM–PAST,PRESENT AND FUTURE
The World Trade Organization came into being in 1995. One o the youngest o theinternational organizations, the WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tarisand Trade (GATT) established in the wake o the Second World War.So while the WTO is still young, the multilateral trading system that was originally set upunder GATT is well over 50 years old.The past 50 years have seen an exceptional growth in world trade. Merchandise exportsgrew on average by 6% annually. Total trade in 2000 was 22-times the level o 1950.GATT and the WTO have helped to create a strong and prosperous trading systemcontributing to unprecedented growth.The system was developed through a series o trade negotiations, or rounds, held underGATT. The rst rounds dealt mainly with tari reductions but later negotiations includedother areas such as anti-dumping and non-tari measures. The last round – the 1986-94Uruguay Round – led to the WTO’s creation.The negotiations did not end there. Some continued ater the end o the Uruguay Round.In February 1997 an agreement was reached on telecommunications services, with 69governments agreeing to wide-ranging liberalization measures that went beyond thoseagreed in the Uruguay Round.In the same year, 40 governments successully concluded negotiations or tari-ree tradein inormation technology products, and 70 members concluded a nancial services dealcovering more than 95% o trade in banking, insurance, securities and nancialinormation.In 2000, new talks started on agriculture and services. These have now been incorporatedinto a broader work programme, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), launched at theourth WTO Ministerial Conerence in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001.The agenda adds negotiations and other work on non-agricultural taris, trade andenvironment, WTO rules such as anti-dumping and subsidies, investment, competitionpolicy, trade acilitation, transparency in government procurement, intellectual property,and a range o issues raised by developing countries as diculties they ace inimplementing the present WTO agreements.