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    The World Trading System - Business Perspectives for Developing Countries


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2001

    Reactions to the Third WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle and the UNCTAD X conference in Bangkok show the growing public interest in - and backlash against - globalization. Reflecting globalization's rapid pace, the multilateral trading system has evolved greatly over the past 50 years. Negotiations that once interested only a select few are now scrutinized by media, non-governmental organizations and business lobbyists, in addition to government officials.

    The daunting size and complexity of the WTO Agreements - over 400 pages of legal texts and 22,000 pages of national schedules of liberalization commitments - have discouraged many businesses from looking at the basics of the world trading system. Yet understanding the system is a key to success in today's globalizing economy, where rules forged in distant capitals have an increasing impact on cross-border trade and competition in home markets.

    This Close Up section provides a business perspective on the world trading system. What do business executives need to know about the system, and why does it attract so much interest? What do they need to know about multilateral negotiations on services, one of the fastest-moving areas in international business? What questions do business executives in developing countries ask about the world trading system, and where can they find the answers?