World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999

The WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 was a meeting of the World Trade Organization, convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington, USA, over the course of three days, beginning Tuesday, 30 November 1999. A week before the meeting, delegates admitted failure to agree on the agenda and the presence of deep disagreements with developing countries.[1] Intended as the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations that would have been called "The Millennium Round", the negotiations were marred by poor organization and controversial management of large street protests.[2] Developing country representatives became resentful and uncooperative on being excluded from talks as the United States and the European Union attempted to cement a mutual deal on agriculture. The negotiations collapsed and were reconvened in Doha, Qatar, in November 2001. The Doha venue enabled on-site public protest to be excluded. Necessary agenda concessions were made to include the interests of developing countries, which had by then further established their own negotiation blocs, such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. Thus, the current round is called the Doha Development Round, which has since 2008 remained stalled as a result of diverging perspectives regarding tariffs, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers such as agricultural subsidies.

Anti-globalization activists made headlines around the world in 1999, when they forced the Seattle WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 to end early with direct action tactics.

Seattle Ministerial Conference 30 November-3 December 1999 (9308794108)
World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 is located in Earth
World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999
Location of Seattle

1 December[3]

Agricultural Working Group

The Agricultural Working Group primarily focused on improving the text of the Draft Ministerial Declaration which they intended to utilise as a starting point for further negotiations regarding agricultural trades and tariffs. The text dealt with:

  • The objectives of the negotiations — whether agricultural products should ultimately be treated the same as industrial products.
  • Provisions for developing countries (to be discussed on 2 December)
  • Reductions in subsidies and protection.
  • "Multifunctionality" (how to deal with non-trade objectives such as environmental protection, food security, etc.) and other issues.
  • A proposed timetable for the negotiations.

Working Group on Implementation and Rules

Ministers from developing countries demanded that developed economies such as the US and the EU stop controversial agricultural subsidies, which hindered globalisation.

Japan said abusive use of anti-dumping measures should be regarded as a disguised form of protectionism that nullifies tariff reductions overnight. It said that improvement of the AD Agreement is a lynchpin of the new Round, and that many developing countries support this.

Jamaica said that the 71 ACP countries have been marginalised regarding certain issues of the World Trade Organisation. It called for turning S&D into hard commitments, the extension of transition periods for TRIMS and Customs Valuation, and increase in funding and human resources for technical co-operation. It asked that the waiver for preferential trade treatment given to ACP countries must be extended to give time for them to be integrated into the global economy.

Iceland proposed negotiations to remove subsidies on fisheries. It was supported by a number of delegations, including the US, Peru, Indonesia, Norway, Chile and Ecuador.

Working Group on Market Access

Disagreements regarding Market Access centred primarily around:

  • Coverage and scope of the negotiations — whether they should cover all non-agricultural products or whether some could be excluded (agricultural products are negotiated under agriculture).
  • Overall objective of the negotiations (the current text does not say how much tariffs should be reduced)
  • Non-tariff measures affecting access to markets (anti-dumping measures, customs valuation, import licensing, rules of origin, safeguard measures, subsidies, etc.). Differences of opinion exist on many of these issues.
  • How the negotiations should be organised.
  • How to address developing countries' concerns — one proposal is for exports from least developed countries to be given "bound" zero tariffs in richer countries.

Other Issues

The two other issues considered on 1 December were investment and competition policy. Ministers contemplated whether or not they could agree to start negotiations on investment and/or competition as part of the round of negotiations that will incorporate agriculture, services and other topics; if not, could they agree to develop elements that might eventually be incorporated in agreements on investment and competition and return to the question of whether or not to undertake negotiations at the Fourth Ministerial Session?

2 December[4]

Agricultural Working Group

A new draft was proposed by the Singaporean delegation emphasising:

  • The Integration of Agriculture into mainstream World Trade Organisation policies
  • The Reduction of so-called export subsidies
  • Developing Country Issues

Ending the meeting, the Chairman said he was walking a tightrope. He was being pulled equally in both directions, he said. The danger was that if he moved one way or another he would fall off the rope. But he observed that the text was only for launching new negotiations. "The new round is where the real battle will begin," he said. If the round is concluded, it will boost global welfare by tens of billions of dollars, he concluded.

Working Group on Market Access

Questions raised in the consultations held by the Chairman focused on the methodology of tariff-cutting negotiations. A number of delegations are proposing a common approach. Unlike in the Uruguay Round where members cut tariffs on a "request-offer" basis, this would be a harmonised approach that would facilitate comparisons of tariff reduction proposals. Another position is using the combination of request-offer and harmonisation in the negotiations. Certain major traders are calling a reference in the text to an effective increase in market access. The Accelerated Tariff Liberalisation initiative for certain product sectors was also raised.

Working Group on Trade and Labour Standards

This working group was set up to help create a labour standards working group within the WTO or a body operated jointly by a number of international organisations to look at the issues. Opinions differed, with a number of developing countries opposing the creation of either type of body.

Working Group on Systemic Issues

elements raised by member governments in this discussion concerned:

  • The de-restriction of documents
  • Improving the WTO's organisational structure to improve transparency and decision-making,
  • improving information flows and
  • enhancing public understanding of and participation in the workings of the organisation.

3 December[5]

Informal meetings continued through the night of 2 December and into 3 December. The main discussions were in meetings in which some 20–40 ministers took part. The people attending these meetings varied according to subject, and the chairpeople did their utmost to ensure that participants represented a cross-section of the members' positions on the relevant subjects.

Progress was reported in a number of areas, but by late afternoon it was clear that there was too little time left to complete the work of narrowing the gaps, bringing the draft declaration back to the plenary working groups, making any additional changes arising from the working groups and then approving the declaration by consensus. The conference had simply run out of time.

Cultural References

  • Actor/Director Stuart Townsend released a film about the protests surrounding the conference in 2007 entitled Battle in Seattle.
  • The Seattle-based hip-hop duo Blue Scholars released the song 50 Thousand Deep about their first-hand experience of the protests on their 2007 album Bayani

See also

References

  1. ^ "Pascal Lamy, EU trade commissioner, said yesterday there was a serious risk that the meeting would be unable to launch a world trade round. However, Mike Moore, WTO director-general, said he was still confident that next week's talks would not fail. Weeks of negotiations in the WTO have been unable to bridge deep disagreements, particularly over agriculture and developing countries' concerns about their WTO obligations." —David Wighton World leaders resist joining Seattle talks, Financial Times, 24 Nov 1999
  2. ^ Elliott, Larry (4 December 1999). "Week of division on and off streets–London Guardian, 4/12/1999". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  3. ^ "WTO briefing note". World Trade Organization. 1 December 1999. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ [2]

External links

Archives

1990s

The 1990s (pronounced "nineteen-nineties" and abbreviated as the nineties) was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1990, and ended on December 31, 1999.

1999 Seattle WTO protests

1999 Seattle WTO protests, sometimes referred to as the Battle of Seattle, were a series of protests surrounding the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999, when members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) convened at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington on November 30, 1999. The Conference was to be the launch of a new millennial round of trade negotiations.

The negotiations were quickly overshadowed by massive and controversial street protests outside the hotels and the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. The protests were nicknamed "N30", akin to J18 and similar mobilizations. The large scale of the demonstrations, estimated at no fewer than 40,000 protesters, dwarfed any previous demonstration in the United States against a world meeting of any of the organizations generally associated with economic globalization (such as the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank).

Alter-globalization

Alter-globalization (also known as alternative globalization or alter-mundialization—from the French alter-mondialisation—and overlapping with the global justice movement) is the name of a social movement whose proponents support global cooperation and interaction, but oppose what they describe as the negative effects of economic globalization, considering it to often work to the detriment of, or not adequately promote, human values such as environmental and climate protection, economic justice, labor protection, protection of indigenous cultures, peace and civil liberties.

The name may have been derived from a popular slogan of the movement, namely "Another world is possible", which came out of the World Social Forum. The alter-globalization movement is a cooperative movement designed to "protest the direction and perceived negative economic, political, social, cultural and ecological consequences of neoliberal globalization". Many alter-globalists seek to avoid the "disestablishment of local economies and disastrous humanitarian consequences". Most members of this movement shun the label "anti-globalization" as pejorative and incorrect since they actively support human activity on a global scale and do not oppose economic globalization per se.

Instead they see their movement as an alternative to what they term neo-liberal globalization in which international institutions (the World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the like) and major corporations devote themselves to enriching the developed world while giving little or no attention to what critics say are the detrimental effects of their actions on the people and environments of less developed countries, countries whose governments are often too weak or too corrupt to resist or regulate them. This is not to be confused with proletarian internationalism as put forth by communists in that alter-globalists do not necessarily oppose the free market, but a subset of free-market practices characterized by certain business attitudes and political policies that they say often lead to violations of human rights.

Deborah James

Deborah James is Director of International Programs at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and is on the Board of Directors of Global Exchange. Prior to her work for CEPR, James had been called "a top U.S. protest organizer" by the Center for Public Integrity. She was formerly the Director of the WTO Program at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, the Global Economy Director at Global Exchange, and the Executive Director of the Venezuela Information Office.

Electrohippies

Not to be confused with Electro Hippies, a thrashcore band formed in the UK including original membership from the band CarcassThe Electrohippies Collective (Ehippies) is an international group of internet activists based in Oxfordshire, England, whose purpose is to express disapproval of governmental policies of mass media censorship and control of the Internet "in order to provide a 'safe environment' for corporations to do their deals."

Electronic civil disobedience

Electronic civil disobedience (also known as ECD, cyber civil disobedience or cyber disobedience), can refer to any type of civil disobedience in which the participants use information technology to carry out their actions. Electronic civil disobedience often involves computers and the Internet and may also be known as hacktivism. The term "electronic civil disobedience" was coined in the critical writings of Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), a collective of tactical media artists and practitioners, in their seminal 1996 text Electronic Civil Disobedience: And Other Unpopular Ideas. Electronic civil disobedience seeks to continue the practices of non violent, yet disruptive protest originally pioneered by Henry David Thoreau who in 1848 published "Civil Disobedience."A common form of ECD is coordination DDoS against a specific target, also known as a virtual sit-in. Such virtual sit-ins may be announced on the internet by hacktivist groups like the Electronic Disturbance Theatre and the borderlands Hacklab.Computerized activism exists at the intersections of politico-social movements and computer-mediated communication. Stefan Wray writes about ECD:

"As hackers become politicized and as activists become computerized, we are going to see an increase in the number of cyber-activists who engage in what will become more widely known as Electronic Civil Disobedience. The same principals of traditional civil disobedience, like trespass and blockage, will still be applied, but more and more these acts will take place in electronic or digital form. The primary site for Electronic Civil Disobedience will be in cyberspace.

Jeff Shantz and Jordon Tomblin write that ECD or cyber disobedience merges activism with organization and movement building through online participatory engagement:Cyber disobedience emphasizes direct action, rather than protest, appeals to authority, or simply registering dissent, which directly impedes the capacities of economic and political elites to plan, pursue, or carry out activities that would harm non-elites or restrict the freedoms of people in non-elite communities. Cyber disobedience, unlike much of conventional activism or even civil disobedience, does not restrict actions on the basis of state or corporate acceptance or legitimacy or in terms of legality (which cyber disobedient view largely as biased, corrupt, mechanisms of elites rule). In many cases recently, people and groups involved in online activism or cyber disobedience are also involving themselves in real world actions and organizing. In other cases people and groups who have only been involved in real world efforts are now moving their activism and organizing online as well.

Global governance

Global governance or world governance is a movement towards political cooperation among transnational actors, aimed at negotiating responses to problems that affect more than one state or region. Institutions of global governance—the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the World Bank, etc.—tend to have limited or demarcated power to enforce compliance. The modern question of world governance exists in the context of globalization and globalizing regimes of power: politically, economically and culturally. In response to the acceleration of worldwide interdependence, both between human societies and between humankind and the biosphere, the term "global governance" may name the process of designating laws, rules, or regulations intended for a global scale.

Global governance is not a singular system. There is no "world government" but the many different regimes of global governance do have commonalities:

While the contemporary system of global political relations is not integrated, the relation between the various regimes of global governance is not insignificant, and the system does have a common dominant organizational form. The dominant mode of organization today is bureaucratic rational—regularized, codified and rational. It is common to all modern regimes of political power and frames the transition from classical sovereignty to what David Held describes as the second regime of sovereignty—liberal international sovereignty.

History of Seattle

This is the main article of a series that covers the history of Seattle, Washington, a city in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America.

Seattle is a major port city that has a history of boom and bust. Seattle has on several occasions been sent into severe decline, but has typically used those periods to successfully rebuild infrastructure. There have been at least five such cycles:

The lumber-industry boom, followed by the construction of an Olmsted-designed park system.

The Klondike gold rush started in 1896, but reached Seattle in July 1897. This constituted the largest boom for Seattle proportional to the city's size at the time, and ended the economic woes Seattle (and the nation) had been suffering since the Panic of 1893.

The shipbuilding boom, which peaked during World War I and crashed immediately thereafter, followed by the unused city development plan of Virgil Bogue.

The Boeing boom, followed by general infrastructure building.

Most recently, the boom based on Microsoft and other software, web, and telecommunications companies, such as Amazon.com, AT&T Wireless, and RealNetworks.

History of Seattle since 1940

History of Seattle, Washington since 1940

List of films based on actual events

This is a list of films that are based on actual events.

Not all movies have remained true to the genuine history of the event or the characters they are portraying, often adding action and drama to increase the substance and popularity of the movie. True story movies gained popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the production of movies based on actual events that first aired on CBS, ABC, and NBC. The Movies Based on True Stories Database by Traciy Curry-Reyes was the first to compile a list of movies based on true stories and was the first site to coin the term "movies based on true stories" in the 1990s. This list should only include movies supported by a Wikipedia article.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin (born Susan Benjamin; September 10, 1952) is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink along with activist and author Kevin Danaher, the fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange. Benjamin was also the Green Party candidate in California in 2000 for the United States Senate, receiving the highest raw vote total of any Green Party U.S. Senate candidate in American history. She currently contributes to OpEdNews and The Huffington Post.In 2003, The Los Angeles Times described her as "one of the high profile leaders" of the peace movement.

National Special Security Event

A National Special Security Event (NSSE) is an event of national or international significance deemed by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be a potential target for terrorism or other criminal activity. These events have included summits of world leaders, meetings of international organizations, presidential nominating conventions and presidential inaugurations. NSSE designation requires federal agencies to provide full cooperation and support to ensure the safety and security of those participating in or otherwise attending the event, and the community within which the event takes place, and is typically limited to specific event sites for a specified time frame.

An NSSE places the United States Secret Service as the lead agency in charge of the planning, coordination, and implementation of security operations for the event, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in charge of intelligence, counterterrorism, and investigation of major criminal activities associated with the event, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of recovery management in the aftermath of terrorism, major criminal activities, natural disasters, or other catastrophic incidents following the event. Like the FBI and FEMA, the Secret Service brings in local law enforcement, public safety, and military experts to assist with developing the plan, and give them the special guidance and training to operate within the security plan. NSSE designation is not a funding mechanism, and currently there is no specific federal "pot of money" to be distributed to state and local governments within whose jurisdiction NSSEs take place.

Richard McIver

Richard McIver (died March 9, 2013) was a member of the Seattle City Council. He was selected from 114 applicants to fill a vacancy on the Council in January 1997, was elected to the position that fall, and was reelected in 2001 and 2005. As of October 2007 he was chair of the Finance & Budget and Budget Committees, vice-chair of the Economic Development & Neighborhoods Committee, and a member of the Housing, Human Services & Health Committee.

In his 2001 campaign, he defeated music critic, monorail booster and author Grant Cogswell. In a film about that campaign, Grassroots, McIver was played by Cedric the Entertainer.McIver chaired the City Council’s Housing & Economic Development Committee. He was vice-chair of the Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee and was a member of the Transportation Committee. He was an alternate member of the Energy & Technology Committee. (From 2004 through 2007 he was the chair of the Council’s Budget & Finance Committee.)

McIver was strongly identified with Rainier Valley, one of Seattle's poorer neighborhoods. According to at least one obituary, his greatest achievement in office was the creation of a $50 million Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, and he was "deeply worried" about Link Light Rail impacting "immigrant- and minority-owned businesses along Rainier Avenue."During the protests surrounding the Seattle World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999, McIver, on his way to an official dinner, was, according to fellow councilmember Jean Godden, "stopped by a Seattle policeman who did not recognize him as a council member, refused to believe he was a public official, and insisted on making him stand spreadeagled up against his car." "He never forgot that, not so much because of the indignity to him, but that others did not believe an African American might be a city councilmember."In February 2009, McIver announced his decision to not seek reelection.McIver died on March 9, 2013, at the age of 71 in Seattle.

Seattle

Seattle ( (listen) see-AT-əl) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.The Seattle area was inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Seattle" in 1852, in honor of Chief Si'ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Today, Seattle has high populations of Native, Scandinavian, African, and Asian Americans, as well as a thriving LGBT community that ranks 6th in the United States for population.Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Seattle area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region; Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a Seattleite by birth. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Seattle in 1994, and major airline Alaska Airlines is based in SeaTac, Washington, serving Seattle's international airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. Owing largely to its rapidly increasing population in the 21st century, Seattle and the state of Washington have some of the highest minimum wages in the country, at $15 per hour for smaller businesses and $16 for the city's largest employers.Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, as well as the origin of the bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and the alternative rock movement grunge.

Seattle Police Department

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) is the principal law enforcement agency of the city of Seattle, in the U.S. state of Washington, except for the campus of the University of Washington, for which responsibility falls to the University of Washington Police Department. It is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The Seattle Police Department has a number of specialty units, including SWAT, bike patrol, harbor patrol, motorcycles, mounted patrols, and a variety of detective units.Law enforcement in Seattle began with the election of John T. Jordan as town marshal in 1870. The SPD was officially organized on June 2, 1869. As of 2011, it had a staff of around 1,800. Since the establishment of the Seattle Police Department, 58 officers have died in the line of duty.In 2011, the Justice Department found that the department had engaged in a pattern of constitutional violations in its use of force.On May 19, 2014, Kathleen O'Toole was nominated to serve as Chief of the Seattle Police Department and was officially appointed on June 23, 2014.

Socialism

Socialism is a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management, as well as the political theories and movements associated with them. Social ownership can be public, collective or cooperative ownership, or citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them, with social ownership being the common element shared by its various forms.Socialist systems are divided into non-market and market forms. Non-market socialism involves the substitution of factor markets and money with engineering and technical criteria based on calculation performed in-kind, thereby producing an economic mechanism that functions according to different economic laws from those of capitalism. Non-market socialism aims to circumvent the inefficiencies and crises traditionally associated with capital accumulation and the profit system. By contrast, market socialism retains the use of monetary prices, factor markets and in some cases the profit motive, with respect to the operation of socially owned enterprises and the allocation of capital goods between them. Profits generated by these firms would be controlled directly by the workforce of each firm, or accrue to society at large in the form of a social dividend. The socialist calculation debate concerns the feasibility and methods of resource allocation for a socialist system.

Socialist politics has been both internationalist and nationalist in orientation; organised through political parties and opposed to party politics; at times overlapping with trade unions, and at other times independent and critical of unions; and present in both industrialised and developing nations. Originating within the socialist movement, social democracy has embraced a mixed economy with a market that includes substantial state intervention in the form of income redistribution, regulation, and a welfare state. Economic democracy proposes a sort of market socialism where there is more decentralised control of companies, currencies, investments, and natural resources.

The socialist political movement includes a set of political philosophies that originated in the revolutionary movements of the mid-to-late 18th century and out of concern for the social problems that were associated with capitalism. By the late 19th century, after the work of Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels, socialism had come to signify opposition to capitalism and advocacy for a post-capitalist system based on some form of social ownership of the means of production. By the 1920s, social democracy and communism had become the two dominant political tendencies within the international socialist movement. By this time, socialism emerged as "the most influential secular movement of the twentieth century, worldwide. It is a political ideology (or world view), a wide and divided political movement" and while the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world's first nominally socialist state led to socialism's widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism or a non-planned administrative or command economy. Socialist parties and ideas remain a political force with varying degrees of power and influence on all continents, heading national governments in many countries around the world. Today, some socialists have also adopted the causes of other social movements, such as environmentalism, feminism and progressivism.

Whiteaker, Eugene, Oregon

Whiteaker is a neighborhood in Eugene, Oregon, United States. It is located to the northwest of downtown Eugene, and is home to primarily working class residents. Though it has served as an agricultural and commercial district in the past, it has become a primarily residential area. It is known as a vibrant cultural hub, center of community and environmental activism and home to alternative artists.

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. It is the largest international economic organization in the world.The WTO deals with regulation of trade in goods, services and intellectual property between participating countries by providing a framework for negotiating trade agreements and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing participants' adherence to WTO agreements, which are signed by representatives of member governments and ratified by their parliaments. The WTO prohibits discrimination between trading partners, but provides exceptions for environmental protection, national security, and other important goals. Trade-related disputes are resolved by independent judges at the WTO through a dispute resolution process.The WTO's current Director-General is Roberto Azevêdo, who leads a staff of over 600 people in Geneva, Switzerland. A trade facilitation agreement, part of the Bali Package of decisions, was agreed by all members on 7 December 2013, the first comprehensive agreement in the organization's history. On 23 January 2017, the amendment to the WTO Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement marks the first time since the organization opened in 1995 that WTO accords have been amended, and this change should secure for developing countries a legal pathway to access affordable remedies under WTO rules.Studies show that the WTO boosted trade, and that barriers to trade would be higher in the absence of the WTO. The WTO has highly influenced the text of trade agreements, as "nearly all recent [preferential trade agreements (PTAs)] reference the WTO explicitly, often dozens of times across multiple chapters... in many of these same PTAs we find that substantial portions of treaty language—sometime the majority of a chapter—is copied verbatim from a WTO agreement."

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