WTO and Trade Agreements

World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO and Trade Agreements

The WTO consists of over two dozen separate agreements.  The most important ones are shown in the table below.

Key WTO Agreements


Agreement Name

Brief Description


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, 1994)

Covers broad principles of trade in goods.  Includes the original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade dated October 20, 1947


Agreement on Agriculture


Improves market access and removes trade-distorting subsidies in agriculture


Agreement on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures

Ensures food safety and animal and plant health


Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade


Ensures that regulations, standards, testing, and certification procedures do not create unnecessary barriers to trade


Agreement on Trade in Services



Most dynamic sector in international trade.  Lays out four modes of supply: cross border trade, consumption abroad, commercial presence and movement of natural persons


Agreement on Implementation of Article VI (Anti Dumping)


Rules to restrict the export of a product at a price lower than normally charged in the home market


Agreement on Implementation of Article VII (Custom Valuation)


Lays out a fair, uniform and neutral system for valuing goods at customs


Agreement on Pre-shipment Inspection


Sets out obligations for both importing and exporting countries to ensure that pre-shipment inspections are non-discriminatory, transparent and avoid unreasonable delays


Agreement on Rules of Origin


Sets out rules for determining where a product is made.  Rules of origin are also used for compiling trade statistics



Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures


Members can request removal of an illegal subsidy or charge a “countervailing duty” for subsidized goods that are found to harm domestic industry



Agreement on Safeguards


A member can restrict temporarily products from which a surge in imports caused or is threatening to cause serious injury to a specific domestic industry



Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures


Sets out rules for both the application and administration of import-licensing rules


General Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

Sets out rules for the enforcement of copyright, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, integrate circuits and geographical indications



Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS)


Prohibits trade-related investment measures such as local content requirements that are inconsistent with GATT, 1994