The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was established on January 1, 1995. The multilateral trading system was originally set up under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947. In March 2005 the WTO had a membership of 148 countries and covered more than 97% of world trade. The WTO Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland. Countries of all levels of development and size are members of the WTO. The WTO's main function is to ensure that trade flows smoothly, predictably and freely.
THE SIXTH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE
The Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference will be held in Hong Kong, China from December 13-18, 2005. This Meeting will assess the progress to date in all negotiations underway at the WTO.
THE JULY FRAMEWORK DECISION
Negotiations had reached a standstill after there was failure by the WTO members to reach agreement on the way forward at the Fifth WTO Ministerial Conference held in Cancun, Mexico in September 2003. In July 2004, the WTO General Council met in an effort to resume negotiations launched under the Doha Round. The Decision reached at that time provided a basis upon which discussions could proceed under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). It is on this basis that full negotiations resumed on all the areas under the Doha Development Agenda. Specific guidance was provided to Services, Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access, and Trade Facilitation. General direction was provided for other areas within the WTO as well.
The Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference was held in Doha, Qatar in November 2001. It examined the progress of negotiations underway in the areas of Agriculture and Services. The meeting also launched new negotiations in Rules; sections of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS); trade and the environment; aspects of the Dispute Settlement Mechanism; and Market Access for Non-Agricultural Goods. In addition, the Doha Conference mandated an examination of the concerns identified by the developing countries with respect to the implementation of various aspects of the WTO Agreements.
Negotiations in these areas, as well as those in Agriculture and Services, were to be concluded by January 1, 2005. That deadline was extended and the status of negotiations will be assessed at the Sixth Ministerial Conference scheduled for December 2005, in Hong Kong, China.
BARBADOS AND THE WTO
Barbados was a founding member of the WTO. Barbados became a Contracting Party to the GATT in 1967 and in December 1994 signed the Marrakesh Agreement to establish the WTO along with other members of the GATT. As a small island economy, Barbados is highly dependent on trade and consequently on an efficient multilateral trading system.
Barbados is represented at the WTO by a Permanent Representative and supporting staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. The Office of the Permanent Representative is located at:
18A Chemin Francois-Lehmann
In the WTO Barbados is actively pursuing the advancement of Special and Differential Treatment and Small Economies issues. Between February 2004 and February 2005, Barbados' Ambassador, H.E. Mr. C. T. Clarke chaired the Committee on Trade and Development in both the Regular Session and Dedicated Session (which addresses the small economy matters). Barbados' first Ambassador to Geneva was Mr. E. R. Griffith.
Some of the proposals sponsored by Barbados within the WTO may be found here. Additional Userfiles/File by Barbados can be accessed via the WTO website by using their search feature available through the Document Online Facility.
Barbados underwent its first Trade Policy Review in June 2002. Each member of the WTO must undergo periodic reviews of their trade policies. Click here for Barbados' Trade Policy Review Userfiles/File.
PROPOSALS SPONSORED BY BARBADOS WITHIN THE WTO:
BARBADOS' TRADE POLICY REVIEW DOCUMENTS
The following documents may be downloaded: