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Multilateral Issues

International Trade Rules
The World Trade Organization (WTO) provides the institutional and legal foundation for the multilateral trading system. Its agreements have set out its role, structure and powers since 1995. As the negotiations advanced, it became increasingly evident that great advantage could be derived from creating an institutional structure to oversee the post-Uruguay Round world trading system and carry over those trade rules to the new system of multilateral trade relations.

Market Access
The current multilateral negotiations were launched in Doha, Qatar, in 2001 as the Doha Development Agenda. These negotiations are widely seen as an opportunity to rebalance the international trading system towards the interests of developing countries and their concerns about the asymmetries existing in the current trade agreements, in terms of disproportionate benefits accruing to developed countries.

Rules of Origin
Ascertaining the country of origin of imported products is needed with preferential trade measures. With free trade areas, a key justification for preferential rules of origin is to prevent trade deflection, or simple transshipment, whereby products from non-participating countries are redirected through a free trade partner to minimize payment of customs duties.

Special and Differential Treatment
The way in which countries at different levels of development are treated in world trade is an important and controversial issue. A key element of the current round of multilateral trade negotiations and in the implementation of current trade rules is the extent to which the rights and obligations of developing countries should differ from those of more developed countries. The concept of special and differential treatment for developing countries involves both preferential access to developed country markets and exemptions from certain GATT disciplines.


Last updated on Jan 26, 2009


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