The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a powerful global commerce agency, and one of the main mechanisms of corporate globalization. Under the WTO's system of corporate-managed trade, short-run corporate profits dominate social, environmental, labor and other values. The WTO even places limits on our ability to reign in the Wall Street banks that wrecked the economy. Learn more about the WTO, and find out how to take action!
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The WTO and Regulation of Financial Services: Implications for the Current Economic Crisis
Foreclosed homes. Lost jobs. Collapsing banks. The greatest government involvement in the economy in generations. While these headlines dominate the news, one of the root causes of this crisis has largely been ignored: over the last several decades, the U.S. government and corporations have pushed extreme financial deregulation worldwide using "trade" agreements and international agencies like the WTO.
Read GTW's complete fact sheet on the WTO's role in the financial crisis (PDF). For our full list of materials on this issue, visit our WTO Role in the Financial Crisis page.
The WTO: Background
Established in 1995 after the Uruguay Round of global trade talks, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a powerful global commerce agency that transformed and expanded the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into an enforceable global commerce code.
In November 1999, the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle collapsed in spectacular fashion, in the face of unprecedented protest from people and governments around the world. These are the events documented (via a fictionalized account) in the Battle in Seattle film. In 2001, the so-called "Doha Round" of WTO expansion negotiations was launched, but these negotiations have been mired in controversy ever since, despite numerous attempts (and no shortage of strong-arm tactics) to complete talks.
The WTO and GATT Uruguay Round Agreements have functioned principally to pry open markets for the benefit of transnational corporations at the expense of national and local economies; workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, women and other social groups; health and safety; the environment; and animal welfare. In addition, the WTO system, rules and procedures are undemocratic, un-transparent and non-accountable and have operated to marginalize the majority of the world's people.
Check out our book Whose Trade Organization? to learn more about the WTO's expansive non-trade provisions and their effects on the environment, our health and food safety, jobs and wages, development in poor countries and more.