Remarks After Signing of the Qualified Industrial Zone Agreement by Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry, Egypt, Edud Olmert, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Israel, and Robert B. Zoellick, United States Trade Represe

DR. MAGDY RADI, SPOKESMAN OF THE PRIME MINISTER: Welcome to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Arab Republic of Egypt to witness today the signing protocol and the legal document to establish the Qualified Industrial Zones in Egypt. The protocol will be signed by Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister of Foreign Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Mr. Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Industry, Labor and Communication of Israel. The legal document, which will bring the designation of the Qualified Industrial Zones into force, will be signed by Ambassador Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative. The event is honored by the presence of his Excellency Mr. Ahmed Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt and Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Now, we will witness the signing of the two documents.

Minister of Trade, Foreign Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt will deliver his Statement.

MINISTER RACHID: Ladies and Gentlemen, today my colleagues, Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the United States Trade Representative, Mr. Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister of State of Israel and myself have signed a very important trade protocol to established seven Qualified Industrial Zones in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, and the Suez Canal Zone.

Negotiations to reach these arrangements have been tough as such negotiations are. I would like to thank my colleagues for their effort and their cooperation in achieving this result.

The signing of the Qualifying Industrial Zones is significant for Egypt. It is consistent with the government’s effort to open up the economy, increase growth rates, and help job creation, and promote exports. It confirms our determination to move forward on all aspects of serious economic reform and to integrate Egypt into the global economy.

We have high hopes that this arrangement will contribute to economic prosperity in the region. Indicators for success are very promising. No less important is the fact that the signing of this protocol today will help us start negotiating with our U.S. counterparts for a free trade agreement. However, economic interests are not our only goal for cooperation.

It is our deep belief that the establishment of Qualified Industry Zones will contribute to just and comprehensive peace in the region - a peace that started many years ago with Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The time has come now to work hard, to spare no effort, and to leave no stone unturned as we strive to further the progress of peace in the region.

In the midst of much unpleasant news emanating from the Middle East, today’s event is a positive step for the future.

Thank you. (Applause)

DR. RADI: I now invite Mr. Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Trade, Industry, Labor, and Communication of Israel to deliver his statement.

MINISTER OLMERT: Thank you very much. Ambassador Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative, Mr. Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade of Egypt, distinguished Ambassadors, officials from the Egyptian government, from the American government, from the Israeli government, ladies and gentlemen, I am very proud to have been proud to have been part of this ceremony today. I am very proud that we all today signed an agreement, which will do good business to all of us and which will also be one more important ingredient in changing the atmosphere in the Middle East with two of the major countries and a great friend of peace in the Middle East, the United States of America.

This is a good business for the State of Israel, and I wish to thank my two partners for making a good business for the State of Israel. I think, it is a good business for Egypt, and I am sure that when there is a good business for two friends, America is doing very well also.

Thank you very much for your efforts and Ambassador Zoellick for the contribution that America made and for the efforts that you personally invested with your staff in order to make this agreement possible. I am very proud that this agreement became possible because of the Free Trade Agreement between the State of Israel and the United States of America, and I hope that it will be a precedent for many other countries in the Middle East and that additional countries will find out that having peace with Israel means not just good neighborly relations, but opens up great opportunities for economic trade, business relations, and the improvement of the quality of life for all peoples involved.

This is a period of change in the Middle East, and I am very much encouraged by the good words of President Mubarak, who said today when we met, that this agreement is the beginning of extending and broadening relations between the State of Israel and Egypt and, hopefully between, Israel and other Arab countries.

I wish to thank all those who were involved. I know that the effort started with Minister Yousef Boutros Ghali and then Rachid Mohamed Rachid took the lead and vigorously pushed through all the hurdles to make it possible.

Thank you, Minister Rachid, and all of your staff. Thank you, Ambassador Zoellick, and all the staff of the U.S. Trade Representative, and I wish to take this opportunity to thank my staff for making a wonderful effort so that all of us will be able to celebrate it today.

Thank you very much.

DR. RADI: I now invite Mr. Robert Zoellick, Ambassador Robert Zoellick, the United States Representative, to deliver his speech.

AMBASSADOR ZOELLICK: It’s a real privilege to be here today with Ministers Rachid and Olmert, two good friends, and I want to start by recognizing both their leadership and their service to their countries.

We’ve worked together to create a fresh opportunity. This is the most significant economic agreement between Egypt and Israel in twenty years. The United States welcomes it and I personally salute those who brought it into force.

At one level, today’s agreement is very straightforward. It removes all U.S. tariffs on goods produced in these Egyptians QIZs using Israeli inputs. At another level, this agreement sends a broader message. It sends a signal across the Middle East of what can be accomplished.

President Bush has advanced a strategy to employ economic opportunity in very practical ways to try to create hope and further opportunity - opportunities for working people to improve the conditions for their families and to have a stronger stake in growing, peaceful, and open societies - opportunities for countries to build better work bonds on a more solid economic foundation of integration and cooperation. And I want to thank the U.S. Congress for creating the QIZ authority and for working with us to draw on it.

Last month, Congressman Bill Thomas, the Chairman of a committee that governs trade relations in the United States in the House of Representatives lead a Congressional delegation to Egypt and after the Congresspeople returned to the United States, Chairman Thomas and I had a chance to talk to about how best we could work with Egypt, including today’s step, and I want to thank them for their support along the way.

I appreciated the opportunity I had today to meet today with President Mubarak and the Prime Minister because their leadership is creating new opportunities in economic development in Egypt. When Minister Rachid visited me in November, we talked at length about Egypt’s reform plans, and I appreciate his very early efforts to help us work together. We discussed the role of these QIZs within Egypt’s broader economic reform program, and we explored how Egypt, the United States, can do more together, bilaterally, regionally, and in the global trade negotiations.

And I think we both recognize that it’s the Egyptian business community that must be the engine that drives the opportunities that are available for the apparel business, but also, we hope, for other sectors as well.

I want to thank the Vice Minister, Vice Prime Minister Olmert for his leadership and his energy. We had a chance to meet in Jerusalem in October, when he introduce me to some of the Israeli businesspeople who are here today, who told me that they want to support business opportunities and the creation of jobs here in Egypt. And it was the Vice Premier who kept pushing to see what we could accomplish here today, so I want to thank him and his staff as well. They believe that the benefit from QIZs can enable all of Egyptian business workers to compete with those operating in the global economy.

So today’s signing marks another practical step towards President Bush’s goal of a Middle East free trade area, or a MEFTA, that could unite economies from the Magreb, through this region, and on to the Persian Gulf.

The United States has been making progress across the region: with some countries, to join the WTO; with others, trying to develop trade preference agreements; with others, trade and investment framework agreements; and of others, leading on to free trade agreements. The trade and, we hope, the prosperity that we are building will benefit U.S. businesses, workers, farmers, and consumers as well.

So I am exceedingly proud to have this opportunity to participate in this historic agreement. It marks the conclusion of one effort, and I hope it marks the beginning for all of our economies and countries in the region to add to that opportunity.

Thank you very much.


DR. RADI: Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to thank you all. Thank you.


Press Availability

United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick

Following Signing

of Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) Agreement

Office of the Prime Minister

Cairo, Egypt

December 14, 2004

REPORTER: (Houston Chronicle) What is the approval process in the agreement with the Americans? Will it be ratified before Congress, or has that already taken place?

USTR ZOELLICK: No, Congress passed a law in 1996 that authorized the President, the Executive Branch, to create these Qualified Industrial Zones under certain conditions. And so, Jordan started to take advantage of it in 1999, and it helped their trade move from about $37 million dollars to about $700 million dollars, and it led to the creation of a free trade agreement. So under the authorization, the President delegates that to the Trade Representative. So when my Israeli and Egyptian colleagues, a few months ago, started to complete this agreement, then I started to work with them to try to shape it. And so today I signed a Federal Register Notice and as soon as that is published, this goes into effect. So it should go into effect in a matter of days.

Yes, sir?

REPORTER: (Al Hurra TV) Egypt has proposed, for a long time, a normalized relation with the Israelis. As you know, it isn’t great for the peace process at this time, but now this atmosphere has been changed regarding what we are saying. How can you guarantee that this agreement won’t be stopped if the situation deteriorates?

USTR ZOELLICK: Well, there are no guarantees in life, and I am not a Foreign Minister. I am a modest Trade Minister. But what we have created is an opportunity, and I think this is the heart of what the strategy that President Bush has set out on the economic side. We’re saying that this agreement, and the Qualified Industrial Zones it can create, opens a special trade access to the U.S. market, and thereby it creates the opportunities for jobs, for investment, for growth, for development, and for hope in Egypt.

Now it stems, in part, from some of the business ties with Israel, but, as a good example, when I was in Jerusalem in October coming back from visiting some of the Gulf countries, I met some Israeli businesspeople that Vice Premier Olmert introduced me to. And they emphasized that with the benefits of the Qualified Industrial Zones, they believe that the Egyptian producers could compete with China and India. And this is part of the message I’ve been trying to have to this region. As opposed to just looking at one another, one has to look at the wider world.

So if people don’t take advantage of it, frankly, the problem will be more the lack of seizing an opportunity. And that is for the business communities themselves to decide. So after I met with President Mubarak today, I mentioned a point that Minister Rachid and I discussed, which is that this is only a framework. It’s now up to the business communities to make it into something real. And so that will be the next step.

Yes, ma’am?

REPORTER: (Dubai) As we all know, a successful business relationship has to find a safe environment, so do you have any agreement on the talks maybe to guarantee some steps in the peace process in the next few months or weeks regarding this agreement between Egypt and Israel?

USTR ZOELLICK: Let me try to respond with three points. One, remember this agreement is with Egypt. So one of the Qualified Industrial Zones is the Greater Cairo Area; another is Alexandria; another is the Suez Canal. And so I think there is peace in those regions so as to create jobs and opportunity.

Second, I just came from your country, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, where we are now starting to negotiate a free trade agreement. So obviously there’s stability and peace there.

The third point is: maybe that’s a message for the whole region, which is that as opposed to moving beyond conflict and destruction, if people create an opportunity, who will really benefit? - The average person who can get a job, create a better life for their family.

So those are the opportunities that we’re trying to create here economically. As part of our Free Trade Agreement with Israel, we have a free trade opportunity with the Palestinian region, but why doesn’t money go there? Well because investors aren’t going to go where they’re afraid to do business. Okay? You know, I can’t create a peace process. I can create a model, an opportunity and hope and create a sense in both the Arab countries, as well as Israel, that their future is in terms of trying to create a better livelihood for their people. And that obviously, I keep trying to emphasize, is vitally important because the rest of the world keeps moving on, and we want to try to give an opportunity here for reformers to succeed in more open societies.


REPORTER: (Reuters) You said it could take a couple of days to take effect, but if the Egyptians and Israelis take their time, will this affect your timetable?

USTR ZOELLICK: No. They can speak for their own legislative processes, but from the U.S. side in other words, that prepares it to go into effect. But the Egyptians and Israelis have their own internal procedures, and it’s probably more appropriate you speak on that. What I was saying is, from the U.S. perspective, we wanted to try to make this prepared to go into effect right away, particularly because, as I mentioned, you have the end of these global textile quotas at the end of the year.


REPORTER: (inaudible) American investments decreased through last year. Do you think that this agreement or this protocol will increase the American investment in Egypt?

USTR ZOELLICK: When I checked the statistics, there is still about $3.2 billion dollars in U.S. foreign direct investment in Egypt. But I think, where this agreement would help with that, is that I see this agreement as just one part of a larger Egyptian reform effort. And when Minister Rachid visited me in November, we spent a lot of time talking about the banking reforms, the reforms in some of the industrial policies, as well as the trade reforms, the customs reforms. And so we hope, and this is the intention, that by showing some of the benefits of a more open trading system and economic integration, it will help this new economic reform team to take on some of the other issues that have hindered investment. So people have talked about other aspects in our bilateral relationship, but we have some businesses here, who frankly were worried about they may have to pull out because the tax policies created disincentive, but the government is now starting to fix that. So I think what we hope to do is to use this as part of a larger effort to support the reform team in their broader efforts, which will create opportunities, not only for Israeli investment, but Egyptian investment, U.S. investment, European investment.

And that’s indeed what happened with Jordan, where we went from a QIZ to a Free Trade Agreement, and they are not only growing investments in the apparel sector, but their growing in the knowledge industries – pharmaceuticals, Microsoft, and others. So I see this as part of a larger building effort.

Yes, ma’am?

REPORTER: (Hadia Mustapha from Egypt Today Magazine) Where do the negotiations stand on the Egypt free trade agreement right now?

USTR ZOELLICK: Well, I hope this will help advance the process. As I mentioned, what President Bush has set out is to try build a Middle East free trade area with all the countries and integrate them. But each country is at a different stage of development, and, of course, we have to acknowledge that. So some, like Saudi Arabia - we need to bring them into the WTO first. Some, like Morocco and Jordan, we now have Free Trade Agreements. Bahrain, we’re adding. We have to get it through the Congress.

This is a step that I hope will help build confidence on both sides. Build support in Egypt and then, as part of that step, what we’ve discussed is, first, trying to make sure this agreement gets implemented properly so it works and creates the jobs; second, to deal with some of the bilateral trade issues on the investment side or some of our agriculture goods that have had a hard time coming in - to build confidence and support of the United States; and third, discuss the elements of this free trade agreement to make sure that the government has a sense of how it wants to integrate that in its overall reform process. Because these are comprehensive, they’re not easy to do. The government has a lot of different items, but together I hope this will move ahead, and it’s obviously a topic I talked about with President Mubarak, and I know he will talk about more with President Bush as well.

REPORTER: (NBC) Is this the first step for more free trade agreements between Egypt and Israel and other Arab countries?

USTR ZOELLICK: You know, those are really decisions for Egypt and Israel to make. What we in the United States can do is try to create a context for cooperation that shows the average people the benefits in terms of jobs and a better life for their children and their families. And we can partly do that through the U.S. market. So yes, this helps create the integration between the economies just as there is greater integration with Israel and Jordan. But we also want to integrate the other economies in the region - those in the Gulf, those in the Maghreb and, equally important, we want to make sure that the countries in the region can compete globally. You have to keep in mind it’s a global competition. And so, while all the discussion is on, sort of, Israel and Egypt, or the peace process as you had, please keep in mind, there are big countries out there - China, India, Brazil - and they’re playing very actively in the global game. We’re trying to give Egypt a little bit of a leg up here and, in the process, help some reformers who deserve support.

Yes, ma’am?

REPORTER: (Pittsburgh Tribune) There’s always a political dimension to these economic agreements, and how do you see this affecting the street level?

USTR ZOELLICK: Well, that’s a very good question. And I think it partly goes back to what I said is that to make this really come into force, it’s going to depend on the businesspeople in Egypt, and it’s going to depend on them helping to create jobs and opportunity in Egypt. And so our hope is - if you look at the Jordan experience, it’s created between 35,000 to 50,000 jobs. It’s the estimate in Jordan – and there are estimates here that are larger and particularly if you look towards a free trade agreement over time. And so we hope that this working with the reform team will show that, if you can create a better chance for people to meet their family’s livelihood, to give their children a better opportunity and education for the future, that starts with having a job. And so this can help people compete globally and to, frankly, earn higher wages over time as they add value. So that does fit into the overall environment and again - this poor woman seems so frustrated - all I can say is I am not the Foreign Minister. I can’t tell you how you are going to make Middle East peace, but I can say that, if we help people recognize the benefits of working together as opposed to shooting one another, that’s a good step.

Thank you.

Generalized System of Preferences: Extension of Deadlines for Filing Petitions for 2011 Annual GSP Product and Country Practices Review

Generalized System of Preferences: Extension of Deadlines for Filing Petitions for 2011 Annual GSP Product and Country Practices Review

Generalized System of Preferences: Import Statistics Relating to Competitive Need Limitations

Generalized System of Preferences: Import Statistics Relating to Competitive Need Limitations

Testimony of Assistant United States Trade Representative for China Affairs Claire Reade Before The Congressional-Executive Commission on China

Assistant United States Trade Representative for China Affairs Claire Reade

Testimony Before The Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Washington, DC
December 13, 2011

*As Prepared For Delivery*

“Chairman Smith, Chairman Brown and members of the Commission, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today on issues surrounding the U.S.-China trade relationship and, in particular, China’s efforts to fulfill the commitments that it made upon joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) ten years ago. This is a subject of considerable importance and a matter of great priority for the Administration and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk.

“I would like to begin my testimony with USTR’s assessment of China's first ten years of WTO membership, followed by a discussion of some specific areas of ongoing concern. I will then address the impact of China’s WTO membership on the rule of law in China, with an emphasis on the issue of transparency. Finally, I will share my observations about what China’s future participation in the WTO might look like.

“When China acceded to the World Trade Organization on December 11, 2001, the terms of its accession called for China to implement numerous specific commitments over time, with almost all of its commitments to be phased in completely within five years. Following China’s accession, Chinese leaders took many impressive steps to implement a set of sweeping reforms in order to meet these commitments. China reduced tariffs, eliminated many non-tariff barriers that denied national treatment and market access for goods and services imported from other WTO members, and made legal improvements in intellectual property protections and in transparency. These steps unquestionably deepened China’s integration into the international trading system, strengthening both China’s rule of law and the economic reforms that China had begun in 1978. Trade and investment also expanded dramatically between China and its many trading partners, including the United States. Indeed, this expansion in trade and investment has provided numerous and substantial opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers, farmers and service suppliers, and a wealth of affordable goods for U.S. consumers.

“Despite this progress, the overall picture of China’s actions to implement its WTO commitments remains complex, given a troubling trend in China toward intensified state intervention in the Chinese economy over the last five years. Increasingly, trade frictions with China can be traced to China’s pursuit of industrial policies that rely on trade-distorting government actions to promote or protect China’s state-owned enterprises and domestic industries. In fact, in recent years, China seems to be embracing state capitalism more strongly, rather than continuing to move toward the economic reform goals that originally drove its pursuit of WTO membership.

“In short, even with the tremendous progress China has made in the complex task of implementing its WTO commitments, critical work remains. Today, I will highlight four areas that continue to cause particular concern for the United States and U.S. stakeholders in terms of China’s approach to the obligations of WTO membership. For more details about these matters, I would refer the Commission to the 2011 USTR Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance, which we issued yesterday. I will submit a copy for the record.

“The first area is effective enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. This remains a massive challenge. Counterfeiting and piracy in particular remain at unacceptably high levels in China and continue to cause serious harm to U.S. businesses across many sectors of the economy. Trade secret theft is also becoming very worrisome.

“Second, China's pursuit of an array of industrial policies raises serious concerns. Examples of these policies include excessive subsidies, discriminatory policies aimed at promoting ‘indigenous innovation,’ export restraints on raw materials, the pursuit of unique national standards, and restrictions on foreign investment. These policies benefit state-owned enterprises, as well as other favored companies attempting to move up the economic value chain.

“Third, even though China is now the United States’ largest agricultural export market, this massive and beneficial trade does not flow as smoothly as it could or should. China remains among the least transparent and predictable of the world’s major markets for agricultural products, largely because of unpredictable and problematic interventions in the market by China’s regulatory authorities.

“Finally, even though the United States continues to enjoy a substantial surplus in trade in services with China, and the market for U.S. service suppliers remains promising, China’s discriminatory regulatory processes, informal bans on entry, overly burdensome and capricious licensing and operating requirements, and other similar problems frustrate efforts of foreign suppliers to achieve their full market potential in China.

“Going forward, Ambassador Kirk will continue to vigorously pursue increased benefits for U.S. stakeholders in all of these areas, using both bilateral and multilateral engagement, including dispute settlement at the WTO, where appropriate. We are committed to ensuring that the United States fully benefits from China’s commitments to trade liberalization under the terms of its accession to the WTO.

“Let me turn to the important area of transparency. This is one of the core principles of the WTO Agreement, and is reflected throughout China’s WTO accession commitments. Transparency permits markets to function effectively and reduces opportunities for officials to engage in trade-distorting practices behind closed doors. China’s WTO transparency commitments required a profound historical shift in Chinese policies, and China did make important strides to improve transparency across a wide range of national and provincial authorities following its accession to the WTO. Nevertheless, it appears that China still has more work to do.

“Three areas of remaining work stand out. First, China committed to publish all of its trade-related laws, regulations and other measures. While China has complied with this commitment in many respects, it still does not appear that China publishes all its measures. For example, China does not publish measures providing what China calls ‘internal guidance’ to its agencies. These measures can bind agencies just as fully as officially public measures do, and the public should be able to see them. Second, China committed to publish trade-related measures for public comment before implementing them. China has made important improvements in this area over the years, but some agencies continue to promulgate final measures with little or no opportunity for public comment. Third, China committed to make all of its trade-related measures available in one or more WTO languages, but it appears that China has made only limited progress in implementing this commitment.

“The Administration will continue to monitor China’s progress closely in this area and will push China to undertake further necessary steps to improve transparency.

“China’s WTO membership offers an important tool for managing the increasingly complex U.S.-China trade relationship. A common WTO ‘rule book’ and an impartial body in Geneva have helped the two sides resolve differences when dialogue fails. The United States has not hesitated to pursue its rights with China through WTO dispute settlement. In the last 3 years alone, the United States has brought five cases to the WTO to address harmful subsidies in wind power, concerns about misuse of trade remedy law, discriminatory barriers in the electronic payments sector, and trade-distortive export restraints on crucial raw materials. These disputes – combined with the enforcement work we pursue in the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and through other trade tools like Special 301 – help ensure that U.S. businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers, service suppliers, and consumers derive the full promise of China’s WTO membership.

“The importance of the WTO to the U.S.-China trade relationship highlights the fact that China itself has a critical stake in participating in, and strengthening, the WTO system. That means, for example, that, at the upcoming WTO ministerial in Geneva, China should join in to help ‘turn the page’ so that WTO Members can solve the Doha Round impasse and implement meaningful trade liberalization and credible trade rules to govern the WTO system in the future.

“Chairman Smith, Chairman Brown, and members of the Commission, thank you for providing me with the opportunity to testify. I look forward to your questions.”

Notice and Modification of Action: Canada—Compliance with Softwood Lumber Agreement

Notice and Modification of Action: Canada—Compliance with Softwood Lumber Agreement


December 2, 2009

"AP: US trade chief turns attention to creating jobs"

12/2/09 6:50pm

During Ambassador Kirk's last day in Geneva, Switzerland for the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, he sat down the Associated Press to talk about how increasing American exports around the world can help to create jobs at home. Read part of the article below, and the full article here.

"We are now turning our attention almost full-time to how we create jobs and continue to grow the economy," said Kirk, the U.S. trade representative, as a three-day WTO conference ended. "Too many Americans believed ... that our previous trade policies had been overly generous to our partners."

Kirk, on his second trip to Geneva, said the U.S. was rebalancing the WTO's so-called Doha round of trade talks to ensure that they create better conditions for American exports. "In most cases when we export more, we get to hire more people," he said.


Kirk said he wanted quick results to help ease the economic duress in the United States.

"This whole notion of everything taking 10 years, 15 years and 20 years is just antithetical to me," he said. "The world changes too quick. Competition is too fierce. The consumers, businesses, workers can't often wait 20 or 30 years just to get a result."

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Gives Closing Statement at 7th Session of WTO Ministerial Confence

12/2/09 2:01pm

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk made the following statement at the conclusion of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.

ARK at Closing Press Conference

From Ambassador Kirk:

"During the recent and ongoing financial crisis, participation in a rules-based global trading system has led WTO Members to avoid the kind of protectionism that exacerbated the Great Depression. This week in Geneva, we have recognized the need to strengthen and build on that rules-based and cooperative foundation, and to consider the potential of a balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round.

"In the wake of the financial crisis, the world needs a meaningful outcome at Doha that provides new and real economic opportunities. As President Obama described it, ‘not just any agreement, but an agreement that will open up markets and increase exports around the world.' This will create the widespread economic opportunity necessary to meet the development promise of Doha.

"In the last several months, the United States has sought to work with our trading partners on new approaches to truly move these talks into the endgame. Our team introduced sustained direct bilateral engagement as a way for key partners to achieve needed clarity and close gaps with regard to market-opening contributions by advanced developing countries. The question now is the willingness of partners to engage in a meaningful way.

"WTO members have repeatedly committed this year to moving the Doha Round forward. It is time to act on those commitments, move outside our comfort zones, and make the hard choices required of those who would lead at the WTO.

"In the United States, we recognize that trade can be an important pillar of global economic recovery and of recovery right at home - particularly in terms of creating the well-paid jobs that Americans want and need. And we also recognize the economic necessity of this round to the poorest countries, to which the Obama Administration has made a special commitment.

"This ministerial may be over, but the work will not stop. I look forward to marking progress on the Doha Round, and on many more issues within this rules-based global trading community, when next we meet."

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Stops by USTR Briefing for Trade Advisory Committee Members

12/2/09 10:00am

ARK at Industry Briefing

This morning, Ambassador Kirk dropped by the daily USTR briefing for trade advisory committee members who participated in the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. Throughout the week USTR staff have provided briefings to the members regarding ministerial activities. Ambassador Kirk thanked the advisors for their hard work and support, acknowledging that their presence at the ministerial sent a strong signal to our trading partners that the United States is committed to being a global partner.

ARK at Industry Briefing 2

These trade advisory committee members represent agricultural interests, environmental and labor groups, the business and manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy. They provide advice to the USTR on trade and economic issues affecting the United States. Ambassador Kirk gave a brief rundown on the ministerial, his meetings and next steps and then they all headed off for the days plenary and closing sessions.

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Speaks at Second Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference

12/2/09 4:56am

Ambassador Kirk spoke this morning at the second Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. This working session focused on the WTO's Contribution to Recovery, Growth, and Development. Read his remarks below.

"As the financial situation unfolded a year ago, there were dire predictions about what might happen to the trading system - visions of the kind of protectionism that worsened the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Instead - and as evidenced by the Director General's most recent TPRB report - we have not seen anything close to what was feared. The system has held fast and, so far, has passed a fairly strenuous test.

The continued health of the trading system is due in part to many of our own individual efforts in the face of domestic political pressure to turn inward. It is also due to the recognition that in today's global economy, it's pretty easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

Of course we must, and will, remain vigilant.

We should all recognize that the rules-based global trading system took a lot of difficult work over the last six decades to establish and maintain, and that it will be a continuing challenge to maintain its relevance.

Our being here today is a testament to the continued and increasing significance of a rules-based World Trade Organization in an increasingly integrated global economy.

Through the WTO's work on Aid For Trade, the Enhanced Integrated Framework, and its own technical assistance programs, the WTO has also helped to facilitate trade-related technical assistance in line with the priorities set by Members in their national development strategies.

I attended an important meeting yesterday with many least-developed country Members, hosted by the Director General. It highlighted the work of the WTO and its Members to ensure trade benefits the poorest Members of the WTO. For its part, the United States is the largest single-country provider of trade-related technical assistance.

The WTO's vocation of economic growth and development requires a Doha outcome that goes beyond just capturing little more than the status quo in terms of market access. We need an outcome that truly creates new opportunities for all Members.

The Secretariat's recent report to the LDC Subcommittee concerning market access for least-developed countries highlighted the geographical redistribution of LDC trade flows, with LDC exports to developing countries expanding - particularly to the major developing economies such as China and India.

In this context, a Doha outcome that delivers the global economic growth necessary to spur development will require market-opening contributions from all key players - not only developed but also advanced developing countries, commensurate with their role in the global economy.

This remains the linchpin in our effort to take Doha to the finish line, and the United States remains committed to working with our partners to achieve a Doha success.

The United States supports the WTO's ongoing monitoring of trade measures, its work to ensure that trade benefits all Members, particularly the poorest, and Members' pursuit of progressive trade liberalization through the Doha Round negotiations.

Through these efforts, the open, transparent, and rules-based multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO will continue its important contributions to economic growth and development for all."

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December 1, 2009

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Participates in Dinner Hosted By Hong Kong

12/1/09 4:13pm

This evening in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Kirk attended a dinner hosted by the government of Hong Kong, at which a broad range of ministers engaged in what Ambassador Kirk termed "useful and productive" conversations.

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Meets with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma

12/1/09 10:56am

This afternoon in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Ron Kirk met with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. Ambassador Kirk expressed the importance of the work being done together by the United States and India on a bilateral and multilateral basis in an effort to move the Doha Round of world trade negotiations toward an endgame, and the two discussed the status of and next steps in U.S.-Indian interaction toward that end.

Ambassador Kirk and Minister Sharma also discussed the positive progress made at the United States-India Trade Policy Forum meeting in New Delhi in October, and the recent successful visit to Washington of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The two committed to further work toward a more formal framework for discussion of trade and investment issues between the two countries.

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Meets with Africa Group Ministers and Holds a Bilateral Meeting with Russia

12/1/09 9:53am

Late this morning in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Kirk met with trade ministers and officials from more than 25 African countries. The meeting focused on key issues in the Doha Round of trade negotiations, the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and trade-related aid to Africa.

ARK at Africa Group
Ambassador Kirk and Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid

On Doha, Ambassador Kirk encouraged Africa Group ministers to work with the United States to ensure a Doha result that creates the new market access needed to generate economic growth and development in Africa and globally - namely, with meaningful market access contributions by key emerging economies. He recognized the importance of cotton for African countries, and noted that best solution on cotton would come from an ambitious agricultural outcome on all commodities and across all three pillars of the negotiations - particularly improved market access into key markets such as China.

Ambassador Kirk also assured African Ministers of continued USG support for AGOA and to provide U.S. aid for trade, but urged ministers to continue to make the kinds of reforms and investments needed to diversify their exports and improve their competitiveness in the U.S. as well as regional and global markets.

Africa Group

Ambassador Kirk also met briefly this afternoon with Russian Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina. Ambassador Kirk expressed the United States' continuing support for and readiness to assist Russia's individual accession to the WTO. Ambassador Kirk also stressed the continuing need for Russia to open its markets to U.S. meat and poultry products in accordance with existing agreements and with world health and science standards.

ARK and Nabiullina
Ambassador Kirk and with Russian Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Speaks at a Working Session on Review of WTO Activities, Including the Doha Work Program

12/1/09 6:24am

ARK and Rohde at Working Session
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Assistant USTR for WTO and Multilaterial Affairs Matt Rohde confer during a working session of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ambassador Kirk recently spoke at the first Working Session of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. The Working Session focused on a review of WTO activities, including the DOHA Work Program. Read Ambassador Kirk's remarks below.

"The WTO's activities have improved lives throughout the world, contributed to global growth and development, and provided a strong bulwark against protectionism in troubled times. The WTOs ongoing work has the potential to generate further economic growth and development that can lift millions out of poverty.

These important goals are being fulfilled through the Doha Work Program, the day-to-day activities of the WTO's more than 20 standing committees, the organizations contributions to work on Aid for Trade, and by the integration of new Members into the rules-based multilateral trading system.

We are pleased that the negotiating groups established under the Doha Work Program have re-energized their multilateral work this fall.

But to close the remaining gaps in agriculture, NAMA, and services particularly with regard to the market access commitments by the most advanced developing countries this multilateral work needs to be supplemented by sustained direct bilateral engagement, as called for by G-20 leaders.

There is no secret to how we will achieve an ambitious and balanced result in each of these core areas. The United States has been clear that we will need to achieve meaningful market opening that will result in significant new trade flows, particularly in the worlds fastest-growing economies.

Little is being asked of developing country Members in terms of new commitments in the Round. But the gains in terms of economic growth, employment and prosperity stand to benefit all of us if trade is expanded in the years ahead in rapidly emerging global markets.

The more progress that can be made in advancing toward a final package in agriculture, NAMA, and in services, the more momentum we will be providing to the broader multilateral work.

The WTO's work on trade facilitation will simplify and modernize customs procedures, enhancing trading opportunities, improve the investment climate and help better integrate developing countries, particularly LDCs, into global supply networks.

With respect to LDCs, the United States stands by our commitment at Hong Kong to provide duty-free and quota-free market access to least-developed countries as part of the implementation of a successful conclusion to the Doha Round. This will complement ongoing U.S. efforts to foster the further integration of LDCs into the multilateral trading system.

The WTO is also advancing the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services, and we fully support fast-tracking action in the WTO's work on liberalizing trade in climate-friendly technologies.

We also support the WTO's work on strengthening rules on fisheries subsidies, which can effectively put a stop to overcapacity and overfishing.

In addition to the important WTO work being done to conclude the Doha Round, it is universally recognized that eliminating tariffs alone is not sufficient to foster development. Assistance is needed to help build productive capacity in developing countries.

The United States is committed to providing substantial, effective grant Aid for Trade in response to priorities identified by beneficiary countries themselves.

U.S. trade capacity-building assistance totaled nearly $2.3 billion in FY2008, up 52 percent from FY2007. Since FY1999, U.S. trade capacity building funding has exceeded $10.2 billion.

The United States strongly supports the accession of new Members to the WTO, particularly in the case of the least developed countries. In this connection, we are committed to the effective implementation of the 2002 Decision on LDC Accessions.

Adoption of WTO provisions builds strong rules-based economic institutions that have a long-term positive impact on trade, economic growth and domestic development, and the process of WTO accession helps to facilitate the reforms necessary to economic growth and development.

The efforts of the United States in LDC accessions are centered on helping the applicant lay out its plan to accomplish necessary steps, and to take those steps in conjunction with provided technical assistance.

In all of these activities, the United States looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with WTO Members."

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Attends Breakfast on the Enhanced Integrated Framework

12/1/09 4:14am

This morning in Geneva, Switzerland, Ambassador Ron Kirk participated in a breakfast discussion of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a multi-organization, multi-donor program that coordinates trade-related assistance to least-developed countries.  Topics included ongoing efforts to implement the EIF, how the Framework can help least-developed countries with accession to the WTO, and how additional funding might be mobilized.

Ambassador Kirk today noted that President Obama’s 2009 Trade Policy Agenda includes a commitment to be a strong partner to developing countries, especially the poorest developing countries, and conveyed the Obama Administration’s intention to continue support for the Enhanced Integrated Framework through bilateral assistance and on-the-ground presence in least-developed countries.  This will include the work of USAID  and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Since 2001, the United States has cumulatively provided nearly $2 billion in Aid for Trade to countries participating in the EIF.

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November 30, 2009

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Attends Ministerial Welcome Reception

11/30/09 4:02pm

This evening in Geneva, Switzerland, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk has attended a ministerial welcome reception hosted by Swiss Economic Minister Doris Leuthard at the International Conference Center in Geneva.  

Ambassador Kirk also attended a dinner hosted by the government of Japan, including Agriculture Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu.  

Earlier today, Ambassador Kirk spoke at the opening plenary session of the ministerial meeting.

VIDEO: Ambassador Kirk's Statement at Opening Plenary

11/30/09 1:23pm

You can watch Ambassador Kirk's statement at the Opening Plenary of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference here.

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Speaks at the Opening Plenary of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference

11/30/09 12:02pm

Ambassador Kirk delivered remarks at the Opening Plenary of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference earlier today. Read the remarks below.

"Thank you Mr. Chairman, Director General, distinguished Members. It is an honor for me to address this 7th Ministerial Conference.

As countless studies have demonstrated over the last several months, the WTO's rules-based system promotes openness and predictability in global markets, and this leads to increased trade and improved prospects for economic growth in all of our Member economies. As our economic recovery begins and deepens worldwide, trade can and should play an important role in the restoration of global prosperity.

The global economy needs the WTO Members to deliver a strong outcome in the Doha Round of negotiations - and that is one that opens markets and creates significant new trading opportunities in agriculture, industrial goods and in services, generating global economic growth and development.

The United States is committed to achieving such an outcome, and I believe that success is possible in 2010. But substance will drive our progress, and success is not something that any one Member, or any small group of Members, can deliver or dictate. The circle of leadership within the WTO has grown broader and more inclusive and Each and every Member of this leadership group has a responsibility.

While developed countries will continue to have a significant role in the global economy, advanced developing countries are playing an ever-increasing role as well. According to the International Monetary Fund, 58 percent of global economic growth between now and 2014 will be provided by China, India, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and the ASEAN countries.

The creation of new trade flows and meaningful market opening, particularly in key emerging markets, is required to fulfill the development promise of Doha.

Success is not something that Negotiating Group Chairs, or our esteemed Director General, can deliver for us.

[While w]ork programs and stock takings [are] useful, we cannot confuse process and substance. All shortcuts will only lead to further delays and dead ends. There simply is no substitute for the hard work of negotiations in all formats among Members - ranging from large groups to direct bilateral engagement.

For our part, the United States' negotiating team is ready to move into the endgame. We have made our specific interests well known: that meaningful market opening is required to complete the Round. And we are looking for concrete signs from other members that they are ready to join us in that commitment. We welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the goal to which we have all committed ourselves."

WTO Opening Plenary
Opening Plenary of the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference at the International Conference Center in Geneva, Switzerland.

ARK at Plenary
Ambassador Kirk speaks at the Opening Plenary session.

VIDEO: Ambassador Kirk Talks About Working to Open Markets for American Exports

11/30/09 6:14am

As U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Kirk works to open up markets around the world for American businesses and workers. Earlier today, he recorded a short video about being in Geneva for the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference and how he is working to create more good American jobs by opening world markets to American exports. Watch the video below.

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November 29, 2009

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Attends Dinner Hosted by Australian Government

11/29/09 4:41pm

This evening in Geneva, Switzerland, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk attended a services-focused dinner hosted by the Australian government.

Earlier today, Ambassador Kirk met with Brazilian Trade Minister Celso Amorim and attended a reception hosted by the Indian Mission to the WTO.

GENEVA UPDATE: Ambassador Kirk Meets with Brazil's Minister Amorim

11/29/09 1:39pm

Ambassador Ron Kirk arrived in Geneva, Switzerland today for the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference. This afternoon, Ambassador Kirk met informally with Brazilian Trade Minister Celso Amorim. Ambassador Kirk and Minister Amorim discussed this week's ministerial events, and prospects for a balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round. Ambassador Kirk has stressed in recent months the need for key emerging markets, including Brazil, to provide further market openings to meet the Round's objectives.

This evening, Ambassador Kirk attended a reception for trade ministers and senior officials hosted by the Indian Mission to the WTO.


ARK and Sharma
Ambassador Kirk with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

"We Work to Generate Trade Opportunities for American Businesses and Workers"

11/29/09 10:30am

Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Mission to the World Trade Organization Dave Shark recently sat down to talk about the day-to-day workings of the World Trade Organization. Dave works to generate trade opportunities for American businesses and workers. Watch the video with Dave below.

USTR Ron Kirk Arrives in Geneva, Switzerland for WTO Ministerial Meeting

11/29/09 9:36am

United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk arrived in Geneva, Switzerland today for the 7th Session of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. While in Geneva, Kirk will meet multilaterally with trade ministers from America's WTO partner economies, and will hold a number of meetings on the margins with key trading partners and blocs. The ministerial is not a formal negotiating session, but an opportunity to take stock of the global trading system and to discuss the importance of keeping markets open and beneficial trade flowing at this time of economic crisis.

"When the world's markets are more open to American goods and services, and trade occurs in a rules-based system, American businesses get to make and sell more products and hire more workers at home. The United States engages with other economies and plays a leadership role at the World Trade Organization in order to boost American exports and grow the well-paid jobs Americans want and need," said Kirk. "This ministerial is an important opportunity for the WTO's 153 members to take stock of the trading system overall, to build on the foundation of our rules-based trading system, and to consider the potential of a balanced and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round of world trade negotiations."

Kirk is scheduled to address the opening plenary session of the ministerial on Monday, November 30 at the International Conference Centre Geneva, and to participate in multilateral working sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Following the public closing conference of the ministerial meeting on Wednesday, Kirk will hold a news conference.

USTR meetings on the margins include, but are not limited to, sessions with ministers from a number of least-developed countries and with the African Group. Kirk will hold a number of bilateral meetings with key U.S. trading partners as well.

Aid for Trade

11/29/09 8:54am

The Aid for Trade initiative was launched four years ago at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong. Although the WTO is not a development agency, its members and other international organizations work together to advance development initiatives. Aid for Trade is one such initiative. Designed to help developing countries overcome constraints, build their economic infrastructure, and increase their competitiveness, Aid for Trade is a critical program that is helping developing countries realize their potential.

Through the Aid for Trade initiative USTR and U.S. development agencies like USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation are working with developing countries to ensure that trade needs are part of national development plans. By giving these countries the training and technical assistance necessary to succeed, the U.S. government is helping them build the capacity to take advantage of the opportunities available in the global trading system.

President Obama believes that increased trade can boost growth for developing countries and improve the quality of life of the world's poorest citizens. For the United States, supporting international development is a crucial element of overall trade policy. Each year, global trade lifts millions of people out of poverty by creating stable, well-paying jobs in many developing countries.

The Obama Administration is dedicated to expanding trade opportunities through the Doha Round, as well as through existing programs.

Watch Ambassador Kirk Live from Geneva

11/29/09 6:11am

On Monday, November 30, Ambassador Kirk will deliver remarks on behalf of the United States at the opening plenary session of the 7th Session of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference; On Wednesday, December 2, Ambassador Kirk will hold a closing press conference at the conclusion of the ministerial conference. The WTO plans to webcast these events live, and you should be able to see them here on the WTO website.

Monday, November 30, 2009
Opening Plenary Session
9:00 a.m. ET/3:00 p.m. Geneva

Wednesday, December 2, 2009
USTR Closing Press Conference
2:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. Geneva

Please note that the WTO recommends that you view test clips on these sites before the start of the conference to test your internet connection and media viewer software. The WTO has advised viewers who experience technical problems with these webcasts to contact World Television Support Center at or to call +41-44-306-5166 (between 9 AM and 5 PM CET).

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Joining the WTO

11/28/09 8:13am

The WTO accession process prepares prospective members to join the global trade community through an organization dedicated to fair, transparent, rules-based trade. That trading system offers job-creating opportunities in the international marketplace to businesses and workers around the world.

Since the WTO replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1995, 25 countries and separate customs territories have completed the accession process and joined the WTO. Those Members include China, Nepal, Panama, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Ukraine. Currently 29 countries are working through the formal process of joining the WTO, including Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Lebanon, Russia and Serbia.

Every country or separate customs territory negotiates individualized terms for its accession with current WTO members. These terms specify how the prospective member will implement WTO standards, policies, and trade procedures. In addition, prospective members are expected to commit to specific market-opening actions, including addressing non-tariff barriers to trade.

WTO members apply special guidelines for the accession of countries that are designated by the United Nations as least developed countries (LDCs). The WTO also works to ensure that these prospective Members receive adequate technical assistance throughout the accession process. LDCs currently seeking WTO membership include Afghanistan, Bhutan, Laos, Samoa, and Yemen.

As a key member of the WTO, the United States plays an active role in accession negotiations. In addition to expanding the international trade community, the accession process presents a unique opportunity to expand market access for U.S. goods and services.

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History of the WTO: Part Two

11/27/2009 4:06am

In April 1994, representatives from around the world gathered in Marrakesh, Morocco to sign a Declaration adopting the rules and commitments they had negotiated during Uruguay Round and providing for a new organization, the"World Trade Organization" (WTO). The WTO began operating on January 1, 1995.

The WTO is a member-driven organization that oversees existing international trade rules, serves as a forum for negotiating further trade liberalization, and provides a process for settling trade disputes. Trade agreements that the WTO administers lie at the core of the rules-based, multilateral trading system and most are applied by all 153 WTO Members.

The highest decision making body of the WTO, the Ministerial Conference, meets about every two years. The first WTO Ministerial Conference convened in Singapore in 1996. At the Conference, participants sat down to discuss the WTO's first two years and the progress members had made in carrying out the trade rules and commitments agreed during the Uruguay Round.

Ministerial Conferences followed in Geneva, Switzerland in 1998 and Seattle, Washington in 1999.

In 2001, the Ministerial Conference convened in Doha, Qatar. Participants focused on the need to generate more job-creating opportunities through trade. That focus led to the latest round of multilateral trade talks, known as the Doha Round. The aim of the Doha Round is to further reduce barriers to trade, as well as to assist the least developed countries expand their capacity to trade.

Ministerial Conferences in Cancun, Mexico (2003) and Hong Kong, China (2005) focused on advancing the Doha Round negotiations. Additional ministerial level negotiations on the Doha Round took place in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2006 and 2008.

The meeting beginning on November 30th in Geneva, Switzerland is the 7th WTO Ministerial Conference. The theme for the Ministerial is The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment. The, meetings will focus on the day-to-day work of the WTO, including reports on the status of the Doha Round negotiations.

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History of the WTO: Part One

11/25/2009 11:52am

Although the World Trade Organization (WTO) is only 14 years old, its history can be traced back to a period just after World War II.

In 1947, the world's major trading countries signed the general agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT) which laid the ground rules for the multilateral trading system. After efforts to establish an international trade organization failed in 1948, the GATT also served as a provisional forum for members to address international trade matters. Over the years, GATT members conducted a series of multilateral negotiations known as "rounds" to lower trade barriers between them.

The first five GATT trade rounds after 1947 focused on lowering tariffs. The Kennedy round in the 1960s expanded discussions from tariff cuts to more general trade rules, leading to the negotiation of the GATT anti-dumping agreement. In the 1970s, participants in the Tokyo round of talks lowered tariffs further and concluded agreements -- which only some members joined -- on non-tariff trade barriers, such as technical standards.

The following round, launched in 1986, built upon the progress made in the Tokyo round and in previous negotiations. Known as the Uruguay round, it was, up to that time, the largest and most comprehensive trade round. In the Uruguay round, GATT members agreed to lower tariffs, address non-tariff barriers, and extend trade rules into several new areas, including trade in services and intellectual property.

At the conclusion of the Uruguay round, representatives from most of the 123 participants signed a declaration in Marrakesh, morocco creating the world trade organization and bringing the agreements and commitments concluded during the round under the new organization. On January 1, 1995, the WTO officially replaced the GATT and the informal forum it provided for more than four decades.

Today, the WTO is a vital international institution. It has 153 members and, collectively, they represent 95 percent of world trade.