The World Trade Organization (WTO)Advantages and disadvantages [Archives:2005/875/Opinion]

September 8 2005

By Horiya Mash'hoor
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is one of the most recent examples of international trade liberalization. The WTO was convened in January of 1995, a formalization of many changes which had occurred in international markets since the earlier GATT convention. The WTO seeks to lower barriers to international trade and commerce by multilaterally abolishing tariffs, standardizing measures and creating greater dialogue. Its membership has so far reached 148 and over 30 states are negotiating for membership. Like the EU, NAFTA, and various other economic frameworks, membership in the WTO is highly sought after. Money speaks, and free trade is the lingua franca of the global world.

The WTO does not discriminate between its members on anything except the political ability to implement free trade. It's legitimacy rests upon the mutual consensus of governments all over the world to legislate for deregulation of the private sector. From this perspective however, the WTO becomes a major force for uniformity and standardization of international interests. The WTO facilitates the flow of goods and services among countries and regions world wide.

The WTO attracted attention in 1999 when a Ministerial Conference for world trade in Seattle was faced with anti globalization demonstrations. The WTO was accused of being the main engineer for globalization which has negative impacts on the poor and it represents the interests of developed countries with no consideration for the developing and underdeveloped ones. It shows no consideration to health and environment, besides the accusations that they use the private ownership agreement for the procurement of genetically modified products. The conference failed because of the dispute between its members over free agricultural world trade.

Access to WTO requires amendments in the related national laws and legislations to fit international trade conventions, then the technical committees in the organization revise and look at the modified laws, such as customs, trade license and technical barriers committees. Other member countries help in revising, before agreement on the membership. The organization helps its members to develop their human capabilities to carry out basic world trade policies and multi trade systems, in order to acquire the international experience in dealing with World trade agreements and regulation.

The organization admits that their eminent agreements don't cover issues of workers rights, social programs and cultural diversity. Such cases were tabled at the Seattle and Singapore conferences before in 1996. Most of the members opposed them with the pretext that there are other International organizations responsible for them such as International Labor Organization.

There is a growing concern over negligence of the Organization to the concerns of developing and under developing countries over the protection of their products and industries that can not compete or stand in the face of h those of the major powers. The organization allows marginal liberty for the governments of these countries to pass the necessary customs laws against inundation of their markets. They are also entitled to take preservative measures, such as imposing extra customs fees on imports to protect their weak or nascent industries. Those countries are supposed to compensate their partners by granting some of their export commodities access to their markets. It is obvious that the countries have got the right to take precautionary steps to protect their human, animal, plant and environmental rights, considering that they don't contradict the standards set by national and international standard organizations such as (ISO), (WHO) or (FAO).

Experts are of the idea that trade liberation has many merits to producers and very little harm to little producers. It is almost of great use to consumers who have will access to varied sorts of commodities and services that they can choose from, having wider chances to choose the qualities and advantages they like. Liberation will also accelerate economic development in the long and medium runs, a thing that will lead to social welfare.