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What is the WTO?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization regulating trade rules between its Members. It is based on the WTO Agreements, negotiated, signed and ratified by the majority of the world’s trading nations. WTO rules are the guideline for the development and practical application of the national legislation in the field of trade and economic relations. 

The main goal of the organization is to provide stable, predictable and free trade flows among its Members.

The WTO is the successor of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade  (GATT), which was signed by 23 countries in Geneva in October 1947 and entered into force on January 1, 1948.

The GATT laid the foundation for the liberalization of trade in goods by reducing import duties. For 47 years (before the creation of the WTO), the main legal text of the GATT remained unchanged since its adoption in 1947. In addition to GATT, plurilateral agreements with a limited number of participants were adopted. 

The official date for the creation of the WTO is January 1, 1995. In accordance with the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO, signed on April 15, 1994, 76 GATT Member States became the founders of the Organization. 

As of January 2024, the WTO includes 164 Members (countries and customs territories), including Belarus’ partners within the Eurasian Economic Union. 24 countries, including Belarus, have observer status and are negotiating the terms of accession to the Organization.

As of January 2024


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