Environment and Trade: A HandbookUNEP/IISD   
3    The basics of the WTO
   3.2  Functions of the WTO
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The main functions of the WTO can be described in very simple terms. These are:

  • To oversee implementing and administering WTO agreements;
  • To provide a forum for negotiations; and
  • To provide a dispute settlement mechanism.

The goals behind these functions are set out in the preamble to the Marrakech Agreement. These include:

  • Raising standards of living;
  • Ensuring full employment;
  • Ensuring large and steadily growing real incomes and demand; and
  • Expanding the production of and trade in goods and services.

These objectives are to be achieved while allowing for the optimal use of the world's resources in accordance with the objective of sustainable development, and while seeking to protect and preserve the environment. The preamble also specifically mentions the need to assist developing countries, especially the least developed countries, secure a growing share of international trade.

 © 2000 United Nations Environment Programme,
International Institute for Sustainable Development