As soon as the agreements go beyond the regional level, they need help. The World Trade Organization is intervening on this point. This international body contributes to the negotiation and implementation of global trade agreements. Unless a contract contains provisions concerning other agreements or acts, only the text of the treaty is legally binding. Generally speaking, a treaty amendment is binding only on States that have ratified the amendment and agreements reached at review conferences, summits or meetings of States parties are political, but not legally binding. The Charter of the United Nations is an example of a treaty that contains provisions relating to other binding agreements. By signing and ratifying the Charter, countries have agreed to be legally bound by resolutions adopted by UN bodies such as the General Assembly and the Security Council. Therefore, UN resolutions are legally binding on UN Member States and no signature or ratification is required. In addition, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a Geneva-based world organization for trade between nations. Created in January 1995 by the Uruguay Round negotiations under the GATT, the WTO had 144 nations in January 2002.

The WTO manages trade agreements, provides a forum for trade negotiation and settlement of trade disputes, monitors trade policy, and provides technical assistance and training to developing countries. Once negotiated, multilateral agreements are very powerful. They cover a wider geographical area, which gives signatories a greater competitive advantage. All countries also give themselves most-favoured-nation status and grant each other the best reciprocal trading conditions and the lowest tariffs. Proponents of the legislation believe that the current method of negotiating trade agreements, which requires congressional approval, is too slow and complicated for today`s world. Opponents point out that trade agreements are treaties with other nations and that the Constitution gives Congress the power to enter into these agreements. They also point out that speeding up legislation would limit public debate on trade policy. This debate is obviously one of the reasons why the current method is slow and complicated. The main general trade agreement is simply called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

The GATT was signed in October 1947 to liberalize trade, create a more liberal trade agreement management organization, and establish a mechanism for the settlement of trade disputes. The GATT organization is small and has its headquarters in Geneva. More than 110 nations have signed the Comprehensive Agreement, initially signed by 24 nations, including the United States. The role of GATT as an organization has been largely replaced by the World Trade Organization, which I then discussed in this section. There are pros and cons of trade agreements. By removing tariffs, they reduce import prices and benefit consumers. However, some domestic industries are suffering. They cannot compete with countries that have a lower standard of living. As a result, they may leave the store and their employees suffer. Trade agreements often impose a compromise between businesses and consumers. Trade agreements govern international trade between two or more nations.

An agreement may cover all imports and exports, certain categories of products or a single category. The United States is currently active in some 320 trade agreements with different nations. (These are indicated in www.tcc.mac.doc.gov)) However, several general trade agreements have largely marked trade policy. . . .

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