The WTO (World Trade Organization) is the only international organization dealing with global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.
It is an organization for trade opening, a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements and settle trade disputes. It operates a system of trade rules. Essentially, the WTO is a place where member governments try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other. Where countries face trade barriers and want them lowered, negotiations may help to open markets for trade. But the WTO is not just about opening markets, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example, to protect consumers or prevent the spread of diseases.
WTO agreements require governments to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Various WTO councils and committees seek to ensure that these requirements are being followed and that WTO agreements are being properly implemented. All WTO members must undergo periodic scrutiny of their trade policies and practices, each review containing reports by the country concerned and the WTO Secretariat.