Principles of corporate governance principles of world trade organization

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Karimov Abdulhakim


The WTO agreements are lengthy and complex because they are legal texts covering a wide range of activities. They deal with: agriculture, textiles and clothing, banking, telecommunications, government purchases, industrial standards and product safety, food sanitation regulations, intellectual property, and much more. But a number of simple, fundamental principles run throughout all of these documents. These principles are the foundation of the multilateral trading system.

A closer look at these principles:

1. Trade without discrimination
Most-favorable-nation (MFN): treating others fairly Countries are generally prohibited from making trade partner distinctions under the WTO agreements. If you do someone a unique favor (such lowering the rate of customs duty on one of their items), you must also do the same for all other WTO members.

Most-favorable-nation (MFN) treatment is the name given to this tenet (see box). Because of its significance, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which regulates international trade in products, has it as its first item. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) both recognize MFN as a priority, albeit each agreement handles the concept slightly differently.

Together, some exclusions are permitted. For instance, nations may establish a free trade agreement that only applies to commerce among members of the organization, discriminating against imports. Instead, they may grant developing nations preferential access to their markets. Or a nation can erect obstacles to goods from particular nations that are thought to be dealt unfairly. Moreover, discrimination in services is permitted in several countries under certain conditions. However, the agreements provide severe restrictions on when these exclusions are allowed. MFN generally means that a country must do so for the same commodities or services from all of its trading partners, regardless of how wealthy or weak they are, whenever they decrease trade barriers or open new markets.

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