It's the end, folks

May 23, 2002


On May 21, a memo regarding the dissolution of the WTO was circulated earlier than anticipated to a group of accountants gathered for a special presentation by the WTO at CPA Australia in Sydney. (

The early announcement has resulted in an acceleration of this official announcement, originally scheduled for Friday.

“We came here today expecting to hear about agribusiness and trade policy... I never expected that we would hear that the WTO was disbanding completely.” said Trevor Beckingham, the moderator of the event.

Full details follow:

After a protracted review of current policy, the World Trade Organization will disband. A new organization will refound under a set of governing principles based in a different understanding of the purposes of world trade.

The new organization, which pending ratification will be referred to as the Trade Regulation Organization, will have as its basis the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with the aim of ensuring that the human rather than business interests will dominate, and that the TRO will tend to benefit the poor rather than the wealthy.

News of the restructuring was first related to the press by Kinnithrung Sprat of the WTO at a special function of CPA Australia.

In the restructuring, the current bilateral agreements system will be replaced with a multilateral system. The dispute settlement process wll be restructured to be more democratic, and to always be beholden to the goals of the new charter.

As of September, agreements reached under the WTO, as well as under GATS, TRIPS, and other frameworks, will be suspended pending ratification by the new Trade Regulation Organization. Many existing agreements are likely to be re-ratified within the TRO, but each one is subject to individual review for ethical qualities within the global picture.

The GATS agreement will be scrapped entirely in very short sorder, and a new agreement will be forged when there has been an adequate assessment of past services liberalisation and an opportunity for governments and civil society to analyse and debate the proposed new rules.

In addition, all aspects of TRIPS, TRIMS, AoA, and other agreements will be reviewed wih humanitarian and other considerations in mind, and will be progressively replaced with corresponding versions under the TRO.

The restructuring has come in response to studies which indicate strongly that current trade liberalization rules and policies have increased poverty and inequality, and have eroded democratic principles, with a disporportionatly large negative effect on the poorest countries.

Proposals and resolutions for the foundation of the TRO will be evaluated beginning in June according to their likelihood of furthering the TRO charter. Specifically this will mean redressing the imbalances of existing trade agreements; providing access for developing countries to developed countries’ markets; assessing the effects past trade liberalization and redressing problems where possible; and developing an enforceable framework for special and differential treatment guaranteeing that development policies are not undermined by trade agreements.

To ensure a smooth transition, when Director-General Mike Moore steps down as in September, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand will become the interim director of the new Trade Regulation Organization, until new criteria for appointment are established.

Also, in order to provide greater access to the Least Developed Countries who will most benefit from the existence of the Trade Regulation Organization, headquarters will be moved from their current location in Geneva to one of the LDCs. Proposals for final location are currently being solicited.

Principles will aim not only at fixing core problems, but at building a new regime of trust among ourselves (notably between HIC and LDC members), with civil society organizations (NGOs), and with members of the public. The ultimate aim is to establish rules whose priority is to benefit the poor, improve the environment, and strengthen democratic principles—in a pragmatic and immediate rather than theoretical and longterm sense.

  • May 31: Final deadline for binding resolutions
  • June 30: Initial principles
  • July 15: Comments and emendations to initial principles
  • August 15: Final determinations of principles
  • September 30: Restructuring complete


Kinnithrung Sprat, Development and Economic Research, WTO:,  (in Australia: 0401 706129)
Michael Bonanno, Public Relations, WTO:,
Barbara Magee, CPA Australia:,, 0419 603 477
Jean Canning, CPA Australia: