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WTO Addresses Institutional Challenges

Report says there is undoubtedly a need for serious reflection on how to improve WTO's function while safeguarding the strengths of this institution.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the creation of the World Trade Organization on January 1, 1995 as part of the entry into force of the agreements concluded under the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations signed by ministers at Marrakesh on April 15, 1994.

A new report, The Future of the WTO, looks at institutional challenges WTO brings and what steps need to be taken to accomplish the goals of the organization.

One of the greatest weaknesses of world trade is that few understand the benefits of globalization and the role the WTO can play in it. The report explains that although the last decade has brought about the greatest advance in multilateral trade, too many constituencies neither understand its benefits nor its limitations.

In recent year, WTO members have faced considerable difficulties in making substantive progress in major negotiations, the report explains. The Consultative Board believes that different approaches to negotiations should be reviewed outside the context of the Doha Round.

"For example, there should be a re-examination of the principle of plurilateral approaches to WTO negotiations," the Board says. They go onto explain that if there is political acceptance of a principle, it is suggested that an experts group be established initially to consider and to advise on the technical and legal implications.

The review body also recognizes that cooperative with other intergovernmental agencies generally adds value and legitimises the activities of the WTO. However, it is important that the WTO maintains a neutral status by not being swayed by the United Nations or individual countries or regions.

The consultative board who wrote the report recommended that the WTO's Director-General review options for expanding and intensifying WTO activities in pursuing a coherent agenda.

The membership should also develop a set of clear objectives for the WTO's relations with civil society and the public at large.

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