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Introduction to Whose Trade Organization?

It's Not About Trade

By Lori Wallach

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Many people are surprised when they first learn that trade is only a small element of the WTO. But the World Trade Organization—and the sprawling rules that it enforces—actually covers a huge array of subjects not included in past trade agreements that extend far beyond trade matters. The new agreements that were established with the WTO nine years ago included 800-plus pages of one-size-fits-all rules. Those new agreements set constraints on signatory countries’ domestic food safety standards, environmental and product safety rules, service-sector regulation, investment and development policy, intellectual property standards, government procurement rules, and more.