Dialogue Issue 6: SADC encouraged to involve stakeholders at WTO meetings

Table of contents 

  1. What is the importance of WTO to SADC residents?
  2. What were the crucial issues discussed at the last WTO conference and how do these affect the SADC residents?
  3. WTO has been accused of being out of touch with developing countries. Has this been a misconception? Who has benefited from involvement in WTO?
  4. What role do you see FANRPAN playing in the WTO negotiations?
  5. What has been the SADC weakness in the past WTO meetings?
  6. What has the FANRPAN network done to sensitize its members on issues involving WTO?
  7. How can SADC prepare for future WTO meetings?
  8. News from nodes: NASFAM holds its first national symposium

The World Trade Organization (WTO), formed in 1995, is the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that was established after the Second World War to facilitate in the establishment of fair, transparent and relatively free flow of goods and services in the world. Over the years, global trade has been characterized by high tariffs (duties) and non-tariff barriers whose application has reduced the export earnings of developing countries. The overall objective of the WTO is to improve the standard of living by ensuring that trade in agriculture, industry, electronic commerce, telecommunications, transport, insurance, etc is free, fair and transparent. The WTO is the only global organization concerned with and administering international trade based rules and obligations by member states. 

WTO has currently about 144 members, the majority of which are low-income countries, including the SADC countries. The WTO is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and its paramount decision body is the Ministerial Conference of member states that meets once every two years. The last Ministerial Conference was held last year (November 2001) in Doha, Qatar. SADC fully participated in this conference.