The World Trade Organization: Background and Issues

The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established on January 1, 1995,

under an agreement reached during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. The Uruguay Round was the last of a series of periodic trade negotiations held under the auspices of the WTO’s predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Among the questions asked during debate on U.S. trade policy and the WTO are: To what extent should the United States meet its trade goals in theWTO versus other options? Can the United States maintain its sovereignty as a member of the WTO? Are U.S. interests served through the WTO dispute process? Should the WTO continue to cover traditional trade issues only, or should it be broadened to include nontraditional issues such as labor and the environment? What is the role of Congress in U.S. participation in the WTO?