[GS Paper 2 – Bilateral Groupings and Agreements, International Organizations]
Context – The 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization will take place from June 12-15 in Geneva.
The Ministerial Conference (MC) is the highest decision making body of the 164-member Geneva-based multilateral body.
- The meet was originally scheduled to take place from November 30 to December 3 last year but was postponed in view of the outbreak of Omicron variant, which led to the imposition of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Switzerland and many other European countries.
- The conference will be attended by trade ministers and other senior officials from the member nations.
- Usually, MC happens every two years bringing all members of the WTO together, all of which are countries or customs unions. The last meet was held at Buenos Aires during December 10-13, 2017.
- WTO formulates rules for global exports and imports and adjudicates disputes between two or more than two countries on trade-related issues.
- The WTO is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which was created in 1947. The Uruguay Round (1986-94) of the GATT led to the WTO’s creation. WTO began operations on 1st January, 1995.
- Main difference between GATT and WTO was that GATT mostly dealt with trade in goods, the WTO and its agreements could not only cover goods but also trade in services and other intellectual properties like trade creations, designs, and inventions.
- It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WTO has 164 members (including the European Union) and 23 observer governments (like Iran, Iraq, Bhutan, Libya etc). India is a founder member of the 1947 GATT and its successor, the WTO.