World Trade Organization (WTO)
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 rein in the Wall Street banks that wrecked the economy.
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 remain deadlocked more than a decade later.
In late 2013, despite wide-spread resistance from civil society and opposition from some member countries, the Ninth Ministerial Meeting in Bali resulted in a twenty-third hour rollback of an existing WTO agricultural rule and a commitment for countries to update their customs procedures, as well as the implementation of weak trade benefits for least developed countries that had been agreed to years ago. The lack of a significant consensus demonstrates that the WTO's crisis of legitimacy remains. 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.
- Find out more on the blog: Read the latest on the WTO on Eyes on Trade
In a set of recent decisions, the WTO has ruled against U.S. country-of-origin labels on meat, dolphin-safe labels on tuna, and the ban on sweet-flavored cigarettes designed to combat youth smoking. These are the policies we rely on to allow us to protect children's health and make informed decisions as consumers.
One of the root causes of the global financial 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.
A worldwide network of organizations, activists and social movements are committed to challenging trade and investment agreements that advance the interests of the world's most powerful corporations at the expense of democracy, people, and the environment.
- Data Fail: The Divergence between Rosy International Trade Commission Projections and U.S. Trade Agreements' Actual Outcomes Track (May 12, 2016)
- Prosperity Undermined: The Status Quo Trade Model's 21-Year Record of Massive U.S. Trade Deficits, Job Loss and Wage Suppression (August 20, 2015)
- Studies Reveal Consensus: Trade Flows during "Free Trade" Era Have Exacerbated U.S. Income Inequality (August 20, 2015)
- Fatally Flawed WTO Dispute System: Public Interest Policies Lose, U.S. Laws Found to Violate WTO in 92% of Decisions (August 20, 2015)
- Only One of 44 Attempts to Use the WTO's "General Exception" to Defend a Domestic Policy Has Ever Succeeded (August 19, 2015)
- TPP Would Let Us Write the Rules, Not China? Wait, that's Exactly What We Were Told in 2000 When Congress Was Skeptical About China Joining the World Trade Organization and We Know How Badly THAT Worked Out... (June 9, 2015)
- 10 Reasons Why America Cannot Afford Fast Track (January 15, 2015)
- Ontario's Feed-in Tariff: Will the WTO Trump Climate Imperatives? (June 14, 2013)
- Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch submits comments to USTR on the proposed International Services Agreement (ISA) (February 26, 2013)
- With Trade Commission TPP Review Due Next Week, New Study Shows Past Pacts' Actual Outcomes Were Opposite of Agency's Rosy Projections (May 12, 2016)
- WTO Orders U.S. to Gut U.S. Consumer Country-of-Origin Meat Labeling Policy, Further Complicating Obama Fast Track Push by Spotlighting How Trade Pacts Can Undermine U.S. Consumer, Environmental Policies (May 18, 2015)
- Flipper vs. Fast Track: World Trade Organization Again Rules Against 'Dolphin-Safe' Labels, Says U.S. Policy Still Violates WTO Rules, Must Go (April 14, 2015)
- Obama's Legacy: Middle-Class Jobs, Affordable Medicine and Financial Stability, or Fast-Tracked Trade Agreements – But Not Both (January 15, 2015)
- Leak of Obama Administration Trade Pact Proposal Reveals Negotiations Affecting Net Neutrality, Limits on Data Privacy Protections (December 17, 2014)
- World Trade Organization Rules Against Popular U.S. Country-of-Origin Meat Labels on Which Consumers Rely (October 20, 2014)
- Statement of Lori Wallach on Text of Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Text that Has Been Posted on WikiLeaks Today (June 19, 2014)
- WTO Final Ruling: European Ban on Products from Inhumane Seal Harvest Violates WTO Rules (May 22, 2014)
- Will U.S. Face Trade Sanctions as Deadline Passes for U.S. to Alter Law Curbing Teen Smoking, Ruled Against by World Trade Organization? (July 24, 2013)
- Obama Administration Sides With Consumers and Stands Firm on "Dolphin-Safe" Tuna Labels; Will the WTO Authorize Trade Sanctions Against the U.S.? (July 12, 2013)
- Public Citizen and Sierra Club Denounce World Trade Organization Attack on Successful Clean Energy Program (May 7, 2013)
- Sen. Sanders Sends Letter to USTR on Affordable Drugs in Developing Countries (September 28, 2015)
- Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing on Country of Origin Labeling (June 25, 2015)
- Sen. Heitkamp Pushes for Path Forward for Country of Origin Labeling During Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing (June 25, 2015)
- Rep. DeFazio Statement on H.R. 2393, the Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act (June 10, 2015)
- Rep. Peterson Statement at Meeting to Consider COOL Repeal Legislation (May 20, 2015)
- Ranking Member Stabenow Statement on World Trade Organization Ruling on COOL (May 18, 2015)
- Recording: WTO COOL Ruling as Exhibit #1 in Trade Agreement Rollback of Consumer, other U.S. Policies. Summary available here. (May 19, 2015)
- Rep. DeLauro Decries WTO Ruling Against U.S. Country-Of-Origin Meat Labels (May 18, 2015)
- Coalition of 283 Farm, Rural, Faith, Environmental, Labor, Farmworker, Manufacturer and Consumer Organizations Urge Congress to Reject COOL Repeal (June 8, 2015)
- Civil Society Organizations Urge President Obama Not to Weaken or Eliminate COOL After WTO Ruling (May 19, 2015)
- Food & Water Watch Hosts Reporters' Teleconference with Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach on WTO's Rejection of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) (October 23, 2014)
- 341 Civil Society Groups From Around the Globe Send Letter to Governments Opposing Proposed "Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)" in WTO (September 16, 2013)
- 114 Organizations: Statement in Support of Ecuador's Proposal to Clarify WTO Policy Space for Financial Reregulation (September 24, 2012)
- OWINFS Statement: WTO Turnaround: Food, Jobs and Sustainable Development First (December 16, 2011)
Shine the spotlight on the WTO's attack on consumer rights: Take the pledge today! By taking action can we make sure that the Obama administration and Congress do not bow to the WTO orders.