From What is the WTO?:
It’s a set of rules … At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations. These documents provide the legal ground-rules for international commerce. They are essentially contracts, binding governments to keep their trade policies within agreed limits. Although negotiated and signed by governments, the goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business, while allowing governments to meet social and environmental objectives.
The system’s overriding purpose is to help trade flow as freely as possible — so long as there are no undesirable side-effects — because this is important for economic development and well-being. That partly means removing obstacles. It also means ensuring that individuals, companies and governments know what the trade rules are around the world, and giving them the confidence that there will be no sudden changes of policy. In other words, the rules have to be “transparent” and predictable.
Principles of the Trading System
From The case for open trade:
All countries, including the poorest, have assets — human, industrial, natural, financial — which they can employ to produce goods and services for their domestic markets or to compete overseas. Economics tells us that we can benefit when these goods and services are traded. Simply put, the principle of “comparative advantage” says that countries prosper first by taking advantage of their assets in order to concentrate on what they can produce best, and then by trading these products for products that other countries produce best.
In other words, liberal trade policies — policies that allow the unrestricted flow of goods and services — sharpen competition, motivate innovation and breed success. They multiply the rewards that result from producing the best products, with the best design, at the best price.
And how far does "comparative advantage" extend? To basic economic necessities, thus destroying a community's self-sufficiency? No. There is an unequal distribution of natural resources and raw materials, there is no doubt about that--trade should ideally be limited to these and to luxury items. More to be written later.
WTO Document Dissemination Facility
World Trade Organization - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
World Trade Organization
Globalization and the World Trade Organization
Monthly Review January 2000 William K. Tabb
Resurgence issue 206 - GLOBAL PROBLEMS, LOCAL SOLUTIONS - Wendell ...
The WTO : a threat to Economic Justice, worldwide
United for Peace & Justice : Nationwide protests against World ...
NGOs and the WTO - NGOs - Global policy Forum