World Trade Organisation Free Trade Agreements

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This principle is called most-favoured-nation treatment (see box). It is so important that it is the first article of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that regulates trade in goods. Overcoming half of the most advantaged is also a priority of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) (Article 2) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (Article 4), although the principle is treated slightly differently in each agreement. Together, these three agreements cover the three main areas of trade led by the WTO. The WTO launched the current round of negotiations, the Doha Development Round, at the Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. It should be an ambitious effort to make globalization more inclusive and help the world`s poor, in particular by removing barriers and subsidies in agriculture. [41] The original programme included both further trade liberalisation and new rules underpinned by commitments to increase substantial aid to developing countries. [42] More than three-quarters of WTO Members are developing countries and countries in transition to a market economy. During the seven-and-a-half years of the Uruguay Round, more than 60 of these countries have autonomously implemented trade liberalization programmes.

At the same time, developing countries and countries with economies in transition have been much more active and influential in the Uruguay Round negotiations than in any previous round, and they are even more so in the current Doha Development Agenda. WTO Members concluding a free trade agreement or interim agreement must inform the WTO without delay and provide information that will enable reports and recommendations to be submitted to WTO Members.10 Free trade agreements are traditionally reviewed by ad hoc working groups that prepare reports on their findings and submit them to WTO Members for consideration. The 1994 agreement requires the working parties to report to the WTO Council for Trade in Goods, which will make recommendations to WTO Members. Under Article XXIV(10), WTO Members may, by a two-thirds majority, approve proposals that are not in full conformity with Article XXIV, provided that they lead to the formation of a free trade agreement in accordance with Article 11.11 Parties to a non-conforming Agreement may also request a waiver of the obligations under Article IX of the WTO Agreement, which allows for waivers in «exceptional circumstances» if three-quarters of WTO members agree.12 The accession phase includes bilateral negotiations between the candidate country and other members of the Working Group on Concessions and Commitments concerning the level of tariffs and market access for goods and services. .

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