World Trade Organisation resources
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the only global international organisation dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. The WTO operates a global system of trade rules: it acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, it settles trade disputes between its members and it supports the needs of developing countries. The current Director-General of the WTO is Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala. Visit the WTO website for more.
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Surveillance of national trade policies and practices is a core activity in the work of the WTO. At the centre of this work is the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The periodic reviews take place through Trade Policy Review Body within the WTO General Council – comprising the WTO’s full membership – operating under special rules and procedures. All WTO members are reviewed, the frequency of each country’s review varying according to its share of world trade.
The objectives of the TPRM, as expressed in Annex 3 of the WTO’s founding agreement, the 1994 Marrakesh Agreement, include facilitating the smooth functioning of the multilateral trading system by enhancing the transparency of Members’ trade policies. Find out more.
Southern African Customs Union (SACU)
The most recent review of SACU’s trade policies by the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) took place in Geneva on 25 and 27 October 2023. The report and its various annexes follow below:
Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)
The second review of the trade policies and practices of the countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) took place on 20 and 22 September 2023.
East African Community (EAC)
The third joint Trade Policy Review of the East African Community (EAC) took place on 20 and 22 March 2019 to provide clarification from the EAC members on its trade policies and practices.
West African Economic And Monetary Union (WAEMU)
The review of the trade policies and practices of the members of the West African Economic And Monetary Union (WAEMU) took place on 25 and 27 October 2017.
Trade Monitoring Reports
The Trade Monitoring Exercise of the WTO provides regular and up-to-date information on global trends in trade measures and trade policy making. It is the only cross-cutting, substantive and systemic-wide transparency function in the WTO which allows the membership to conduct regular and non-legal peer reviews every six months.
The WTO produces two series of Trade Monitoring Reports:
WTO-wide reports on trade-related developments covering the whole WTO membership and observers
Joint reports with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on trade and investment measures taken by G20 economies.
13th WTO Ministerial Conference – Abu Dhabi (2024)
The next meeting of international trade ministers and senior officials from the World Trade Organisation’s 164 members will take place at the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), during the week of 26 February 2024.
Among the issues WTO members need to focus on for MC13 are WTO reform and in particular reform of the WTO’s dispute settlement system; securing the entry into force of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement and concluding the second wave of fisheries subsidies negotiations; advancing talks on agriculture; and delivering on the development agenda in order to maintain the belief and trust of developing countries in the organization.
12th WTO Ministerial Conference – Geneva
WTO members successfully concluded the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva on 17 June, securing multilaterally negotiated outcomes on a series of key trade initiatives. The “Geneva Package” confirms the historical importance of the multilateral trading system and underlines the important role of the WTO in addressing the world’s most pressing issues, especially at a time when global solutions are critical.
In closing, the WTO Director-General stated that MC12 had achieved an “unprecedented package of deliverables”. Furthermore, “[t]he package of agreements you have reached will make a difference to the lives of people around the world. The outcomes demonstrate that the WTO is, in fact, capable of responding to the emergencies of our time. They show the world that WTO members can come together, across geopolitical fault lines, to address problems of the global commons, and to reinforce and reinvigorate this institution. They give us cause to hope that strategic cooperation will be able to exist alongside growing strategic competition,” she said.
The “Geneva package” adopted by members includes:
10th WTO Ministerial Conference – Nairobi
The WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015, the first such meeting hosted by an African nation. The Conference was chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amina Mohamed. WTO members concluded the Conference by securing an historic agreement on a series of trade initiatives, known as the “Nairobi Package”. The Nairobi Package contains a series of Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries.
Ministers also welcomed the adoption of three Decisions concerning the Regular work under the General Council:
Complete Nairobi Package