The total membership of WTO includes more than three quarters of the developing countries. These countries along with the countries currently in the process of ‘Transition’ to market based economies play a very important role in the WTO.
Therefore, policies are designed in a way to give more support and help to these developing and transition economies. Every year, to achieve the above objective, the WTO Secretariat’s Training and Technical Cooperation Institute organizes certain programmes to give full details of the system including how it works, and help and train government officials and negotiators.
Events are held either in the countries concerned or in Geneva. Developing countries and the least developed countries are helped with trade and tariff data relating to their own export interests.
2. Specialized Help for Exporting:
To provide specialized help to the developing countries (as requested by them) in 1964, GATT has established International Trade Centre. It is operating jointly by WTO and United Nations, latter acting through UNCTAD (the UN Conference on the Trade and Development).
The function of the centre is to respond whenever a request is made by developing countries for assistance in formulating and implementing export and import operations and techniques.
It gives important and beneficial advice and information on export markets and the techniques of marketing. It also assists in providing training to personnels required for export, promotion and marketing services. The centre provides all the facilities and services free to the least developed countries.
3. Cooperation in Global Economic Policy Making:
An important feature of WTO’s policies and functions is that it has to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and other multilateral institutions to achieve global economic policy making.
In April 1994, at the Marrakesh Ministerial Meeting, a declaration has also been made to achieve this objective of economic global policy making. Under this declaration, it was decided that the various aspects of economic policy will be linked with the help of WTO to develop its cooperation with the organisations—the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
4. Routine Notification:
Members of the WTO are required to notify while taking relevant steps. This is a way to monitor whether the member countries are following the rules and regulations issued by WTO or not. For example, details of any countervailing legislation, new technical standards affecting trade laws or regulations concerning the intellectual property agreement, etc., they all have to be notified to WTO.
Structurally, the highest decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference, which has to meet at least once every two years. Since the coming into being of WTO in January 1995, six ministerial conferences have been held. A brief description of these conferences has been given in the table below.
Ministerial Declaration called for negotiations launched at Doha, to be concluded in 2006 and established time frames and targets in specific areas.
Played a constructive role in the process while protecting developing countries’ interests. India hosted the two day meeting of 35 Trade Ministers of WTO member countries and aimed at finding solutions for the early conclusion of the Doha Round to further open global trade.
WTO Ministers declared that they wanted to try to conclude the Doha Round talks quickly and agreed to extend ‘moratoriums’ on electronic commerce and intellectual property.