Why in News?
India and South Africa have called for the WTO to suspend IPR related to COVID-19 for a limited period of time.
Key Points about WTO:
- The WTO is the successor organisation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
- The Uruguay Round (1986-94) of the GATT formed basis for WTO’s creation.
- WTO began its operations on 1st January 1995.
- WTO was established by ‘Marrakesh Agreement’ signed in Marrakesh, Morocco in 1994.
- Key difference between GATT and WTO:
- GATT mostly dealt with trade in goods, while the WTO cover trade in goods, services, and other intellectual properties.
- India is a founder member of both GATT and its successor, the WTO.
Governing Structure of WTO:
- Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making authority of the WTO.
- It is composed of representatives of all WTO members.
- General Council is also composed of all WTO members
- It reports to the Ministerial Conference.
- The Dispute Settlement Body of WTO is a part of the General Council and is responsible for settling trade disputes between member states.
NOTE: WTO has no criteria to define developing or developed countries. Its members currently self-designate as developing countries to receive ‘special and differential treatment’.