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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

A question from Vietnam. Listener Nguyen Minh Tan wants to know more about the World Trade Organization and its history.

The World Trade Organization came into existence in nineteen ninety-five. It operates a system of trade rules. It serves as a place for nations to settle disputes and negotiate agreements to reduce trade barriers. The newest of its 150 members, Vietnam, joined in January.

But the roots of the W.T.O. date back to World War Two and the years that followed.

In 1944, a meeting took place in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire: the International Monetary Conference. There, negotiators agreed to create the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But they could not agree on an organization to deal with international trade.

Three years later, in 1947, twenty-three nations approved the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. It was meant to be temporary. Trade negotiations under GATT were carried out in a series of talks called rounds. The first round lowered import taxes on one-fifth of world trade. Later rounds produced additional cuts, and negotiators added more issues.

The sixth round began in 1963. It was called the Kennedy Round after the murder of President John F. Kennedy. The results included an agreement against trade dumping. This is when one country sells a product in another country at an unfairly low price.

The eighth round of talks began in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 1986. The Uruguay Round lasted almost twice as long as planned. In all, one hundred twenty-three nations took part in seven-and-a-half years of work. They set time limits for future negotiations. They also agreed to create a permanent system to settle trade disputes.

In April of nineteen ninety-four, most of those 123 nations signed an agreement. It replaced GATT with the World Trade Organization.

The W.T.O. launched a new round on development issues in Doha, Qatar, in November of 2001. These talks were supposed to end by January of 2005. But negotiators could not agree on issues involving agricultural protections. The current round has been suspended since last July.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Next week, more about the W.T.O. I'm Bob Doughty.

 
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