The organisation, whose headquarters are located in Geneva, was founded in 1995 as the result of seven years of negotiations within the so-called Uruguay Round. During these negotiations, the WTO was created as the institutional framework for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which has existed since 1948. Additional agreements on further aspects of trade have been integrated into the WTO.
The organisational structure of the WTO provides a platform for member countries to engage in roundtable discussions of their trade issues and to find common rules. Thisformat supports the WTO in pursuing three main objectives:
- Creating and maintaining a system of rules for international trade to improve transparency and predictability
- Reducing barriers to trade
- Founding a forum to settle trade disputes