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sabato 20 aprile 2013


The WTO or World Trade Organization is the only international body dealing with the rules of trade between nations. Membership is voluntary and at the moment the WTO has nearly 150 member nations, who together represent over 97% of global trade. Over 30 additional countries are negotiating membership.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WTO is completely separate from the United Nations and was not formally established until January 1, 1995. 
The WTO provides the framework for member governments to negotiate trade agreements and resolve trade disputes. Trade agreements have the status of international treaties. They are negotiated by consensus and signed by ministerial-level representatives of member governments, but they do not enter into force until ratified by two-thirds of the national legislatures (parliaments) of member nations.
The scope of trade agreements has expanded over the years. Initially focused on agricultural products and manufactured goods, WTO treaties now cover services and intellectual property:
General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the initial treaty, was first adopted in 1947 and substantially revised in 1994.
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) entered into force January 1995 and covers banking, insurance, telecommunications, transport, travel and hotels.
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs) also entered into force January 1995 and covers copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, integrated circuit layout and trade secrets.
Barriers to trade are mechanisms devised by national governments to give their domestic producers an advantage in their home markets over imports from other nations. Three principal types of barriers to trade have been recognized by WTO agreements:
Tariffs (customs duties) are a governmental tax levied on imported goods or services that is not assessed against similar goods or services produced within the country. Lowering tariff levels on imports remains a substantial area of concern, especially among developing nations.
"Dumping" refers to the practice of selling exported goods below-cost with the aid of government subsidies. Because this tends to drive the importing nation's own producers out of business, "anti-dumping" agreements are a contentious issue.
Technical barriers to trade are overly-restrictive government mandates posing as technical specifications for safety or the protection of human health and the environmental, but whose real intent is to restrict access to domestic markets.

The WTO serves as a sort of clearinghouse for proposed environmental and safety regulations because the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) requires national governments to notify the WTO Secretariat whenever their proposed technical regulations or conformity assessment procedures are not based upon international standards.
Nazioni facenti parte del WTO nel 2012

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