Visiting legal aspects of the multilateral trading system

The author highlights the importance of acquiring knowledge of the multilateral rules for the least developed countries

Author: Prof Shishir K. Deb PhD*

The article presents a review of the international rules by which countries are required to abide in their trade relations with one another. The article also dwells on various agreements signed by the contracting parties under the GATT and its successor - the World Trade Organization (WTO).

These include:
A. The Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization.
B. Multilateral Agreements, viz. (I) Trade in Goods - General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1994) and its Associate Agreements, (2) Trade in Services - General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and (3) Intellectual Property Rights - Agreements on Trade - Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
C. Plurilateral Trade Agreements, viz. (1) Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft, and (2) Agreement on Government Procurement.

The article also embarks on the basic principles and rules of GATT.

In conclusion, the author highlights the importance of acquiring knowledge of the multilateral rules for the least developed countries: 'The ability of trade and industry associations in Bangladesh and other LDCs to benefit from the improved institutional framework that has resulted from the Uruguay Round will (depend greatly on
(i) their knowledge of the multilateral rules for trade and of the rights which these ' rules give as well as the obligations they impose; (ii) their knowledge of the new opportunities for trade that have been created by the liberalization commitments undertaken by the member countries during negotiations; and (iii) their initiative in bringing to the notice of their governments the problems they face in marketing their products in foreign markets so that their governments can raise the issue in appropriate WTO forums".

* The author is Professor of Business Administration at the IUBAT—International University of Business Agriculture and Technology, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the Co-Convener, Standing Committee on International Trade, WTO and SAPTA of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI). Currently, Prof. Deb is Senior Fellow & Chief Executive Officer (a.i.) of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI), a national trade policy think tank of the Government of Bangladesh.

Published: 27 Nov 2005

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