Signed in 1947, the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was enacted to reduce the number of tariffs and trade barriers and to foster international trade. Under the GATT, the member countries have engaged in trade negotiations on a variety of issues. Between 1986 and 1994, the Uruguay Round negotiations included the areas of tariffs, services and intellectual property. The Uruguay Round concluded with numerous agreements to reduce trade barriers and institute more enforceable world trade rules. One of the major results of the Uruguay Round was the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which officially began operations on January 1, 1995. The WTO is a multilateral organization with the mandate to establish enforceable trade rules, to act as a dispute settlement body and to provide a forum for further negotiations on reducing trade barriers.
According to the WTO website, there are 153 WTO member countries and 31 observer countries. For a complete list of the member countries, visit the WTO Members and Observers webpage.
This guide was originally created by Karin Johnsrud.
It is currently updated by Katherine Epanchin-Butuc.