World Trade Organization (WTO)

WTO was established as a result of the Uruguay-round of trade negotiations, which was the eighth and most ambitious round of trade negotiations under the auspices of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), which had been founded in 1947. Iceland became a member of GATT on 21 April 1968 and later on therefore a founding member of the WTO, when it replaced GATT on 1 January 1995.

WTO is the legal and organizational frame around the international trade system. Its principal goal is to increase liberalization and enhance legal framework in global trade and through these means gain increased economic growth and development.

WTO is not solely working on the updated GATT of 1994 on trade in goods. In total there are 29 agreements under the organization, on agriculture, trade in services, intellectual property and dispute settlement i.a. WTO deals with the execution of these agreements, is the forum of multinational trade negotiations, settles trade disputes that may arise amongst member states and reviews member states' trade policies regularly. Iceland's Trade Policy Review was last done in June 2006.

The Doha Development Round

The WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001, agreed to start a new round of trade negotiations in an effort to decrease trade barriers still and extend their work to further fields of trade. This round of negotiations has exceeded its original timeframe, but by a concensus of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in December 2005, it was decided to put every effort in finishing these negotiations in the year 2006.

The trade negotiations are supervised by the Trade Negotiating Commitee (TNC) but for specialized negotiations there are nine negotiating committees in separate fields of trade. The negotiating committees meet frequently, for several days each time, every third to sixth week and the Permanent Mission guards Icelandic interests at these sessions.

Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture participate actively in the Negotiating Committee on Agriculture and representatives from the Ministry of Fisheries participate in the Negotiating Committee on Rules, where members are trying to, i.a., stem government subsidies in the fisheries sector. The work of the Negotiating Committee on Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) is followed closely and the Permanent Representative of Iceland chaired the Committee for a 2 year period, from 2004 to 2006. The Negotiating Committee on Trade in Services works towards more liberalisation of services globally and is closely followed by capital and the Mission, as services are a major contributor to Iceland's GDP.

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