World Trade Organization (WTO) Instruments

General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) 1994

World Trade Organization

The Marrakesh Agreement established the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994. The Marrakesh Act opened the WTO Agreement for acceptance by the contracting parties to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) 1994, which incorporates provisions of the GATT 1947. The GATT 1947 includes measures for national treatment, most-favored-nation treatment, as well as anti-dumping and countervailing duties.  Significant to global health, the GATT  incorporates two exceptions that may be exercised by Member States: (1) Article XX(b) General Exceptions provides Contracting Parties with the flexibility to adopt and enforce measures necessary to protect human, animal or plant life, or health. (2) Article XXI(b)(iiI) Security Exceptions allows Contracting Parties to deviate from the agreements of the GATT for the protection of "essential security interest" in times of an "emergency of international relations."

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement provides standards for copyright, trademarks, geographical indicators, industrial designs, patents, integrated circuits, and undisclosed information. The TRIPS Agreement promotes effective and adequate protection of intellectual property rights, ensuring that the intellectual property rights themselves do not become a barrier to trade. The TRIPS Agreement provides for flexibilities; allowing governments to issue compulsory licenses or deviate from obligations of the Agreement in an emergency of international relations. 

Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures

With a desire to improve human health, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures obligates Members to ensure their SPS measures do not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between members where similar conditions prevail, including between their own territory and that of other Members. SPS measures include laws, decrees, regulations, requirements, and procedures including process and production methods, testing, inspection, certification, and quarantine treatments associated with the transport of animals or plants. Guidelines and recommendations with respect to all aspects of sanitary and phytosanitary measures are developed in part by three international organizations; the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the International Office of Epizootics, and the International Plant Protection Convention.