For more information, contact:

PLASTICS' government affairs team

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization that develops rules and principles governing the movement of goods and services in the world trading system. Established in 1995 as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the WTO currently has over 150 members and generally operates by consensus among its membership.

WTO rules are enshrined in a number of agreements governing trade in goods, services, trade-related investment measures, trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade, among others.

The WTO serves a number of functions of importance to the plastics industry, including:

  • Administration of WTO agreements;
  • Monitoring of national trade policies;
  • Dispute settlement among members; and
  • Technical assistance to developing countries.

In addition, the WTO serves as a forum for multilateral trade negotiations in comprehensive "rounds" of talks, as well as in discussions with a narrower scope, such as sectoral arrangements or agreements on specific areas of trade (for example, government procurement). WTO members are currently engaged in the "Doha Round" of multilateral trade talks with the goal of further reforming and liberalizing the international trading system.