World Trade Organization:

Status of Issues to Be Considered at Singapore Ministerial Meeting

T-NSIAD-96-243: Published: Sep 27, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1996.

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GAO discussed the implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements and the World Trade Organization's (WTO) operations in the context of the upcoming Singapore ministerial meeting. GAO noted that: (1) implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements is complex, and the Singapore meeting will provide WTO member countries with the opportunity to take stock of their implementation efforts; (2) limitations and variations in the amount of information reported by member countries has made it difficult for WTO committees and working groups to oversee implementation of the agreements and a new dispute settlement mechanism; (3) implementation of the WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing has been a major area of contention between exporting and importing countries; (4) the United States has many concerns regarding the implementation of commitments to liberalize agricultural trade, and has indicated that it will propose further agricultural reform negotiations; (5) it is not clear whether efforts to liberalize trade in the services sector will be successful, since WTO member countries have been unable to reach final agreements covering some sectors; and (6) it is expected that WTO members will begin work on the next generation of trade issues in such areas as environmental protection, investment rules, competition policy, labor standards, and bribery and corruption at the Singapore meeting.

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