International Trade:

Implementation Issues Concerning the World Trade Organization

T-NSIAD-96-122: Published: Mar 13, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 13, 1996.

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GAO discussed the implementation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade's Uruguay Round agreements and the operation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). GAO noted that: (1) the U.S. has generally achieved its negotiating objectives in the Uruguay Round; (2) the agreements are expected to open markets by reducing trade barriers and unfair trade practices; (3) some U.S. industries and domestic interests are concerned that the agreements will have adverse effects; (4) implementation of the agreements is complex and its effects will not be known for many years; (5) the United States needs to monitor the agreements' implementation to ensure that member countries honor their commitments and the expected benefits are realized; (6) the WTO organizational structure and the secretariat's budget have grown in relation to its expanded responsibilities; (7) several import and export issues involving the service, textile, and agriculture industries continue to be disputed and are awaiting settlement; (8) many member countries have not met their notification requirements so that other member countries can monitor and enforce agreement terms; and (9) WTO members need to address how to allocate its resources, how to assimilate new countries into WTO, and whether to pursue liberalization in areas already agreed upon or initiate negotiations on new topics.

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