The World Trade Organization (WTO) forms the legal and institutional framework for the multilateral trading system. It is the only international organisation dealing with the global rules of trade. Established on 1 January 1995, the WTO aims to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible and on the basis of non-discrimination – a key driver of economic development and prosperity.
Essentially, the WTO acts as a forum for multilateral negotiations to clarify and improve the rules of trade. All major decisions are negotiated jointly and with maximum transparency, and typically decisions are taken by consensus.
The WTO administers and monitors a body of around 30 multilateral agreements. There are also three plurilateral agreements, i.e. based on voluntary participation of members (the agreements on government procurement, trade in information technologies, and trade in civil aircraft). The WTO has a dispute settlement mechanism through which members can resolve differences in trade matters by way of established dispute settlement procedures.