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History of WTO

2005-09-14 00:00

  The World Trade Organization came into being in 1995. It is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT)established in the wake of the Second World War.

  The multilateral trading system was developed through a series of trade negotiations, or rounds. The first rounds dealt mainly with tariff reductions but later negotiations included other areas such as anti-dumping and non-tariff measures. The latest round, the 1986*94 Uruguay Round, led to the WTO's creation.

  The negotiations did not end there. Some continued after the end of the Uruguay Round. In February 1997 agreement was reached on telecommunications services, with 69 governments agreeing to wide-ranging liberalization measures that went beyond those agreed in the Uruguay Round.

  In the same year 40 governments concluded negotiations for tariff-free trade in information technology products, and 70 members concluded a financial services deal covering more than 95% of trade in banking, insurance, securities and financial information.

  At the May 1998 ministerial meeting in Geneva, WTO members agreed to study trade issues arising from global electronic commerce.

  The next ministerial conference is due to be held in Seattle of the United States in late 1999.

  In 2000, new talks are due to start on agriculture and services and possibly a range of other issues.

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