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The World Trade Organization at Twenty

The World Trade Organization at Twenty
Roger B. Porter
Petros C. Mavroidis and Robert Wolfe
Bernard Hoekman


On 1 January 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) officially came into being, establishing a new structure of governance for international trade. The WTO serves as a vehicle for international collective action and negotiation, offers a mechanism through which trade-related disputes can be settled, and most importantly, creates the rules and regulations by which all members must abide. As the WTO—which now encompasses 161 member states and over 60 core agreements—commemorates its twentieth anniversary, the four articles presented here offer a diverse set of perspectives on the WTO as a major actor in world politics. Roger B. Porter outlines the contributions of the WTO to the world trading system as well as obstacles it faces in implementing its policies. Petros C. Mavroidis and Robert Wolfe discuss the WTO’s potential to eliminate information asymmetries by increasing transparency. Finally, Bernard Hoekman analyzes the ways in which regional trade agreements can complicate multilateral cooperation.