How was the WTO formed?

The WTO was formed in 1995 at the culmination of the ``Uruguay Round of GATT'', a decade-long (1986-1994) process of negotiations on a broad range of trade and ``trade-related'' topics. One of the agreements negotiated as part of the Uruguay Round was the formal constitution of the WTO, to oversee, review and enforce the negotiated trade agreements. GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, was two things: a specific agreement setting out rules on tariffs and trade (more on this later), and an organisation created later to support the agreement. It was established in 1947, after World War II, to begin to regulate world trade; over the subsequent decades, it greatly expanded its areas of responsibility, resulting in the creation of a fully-fledged and very powerful international organisation, the WTO. Prior to the Uruguay Round, GATT rules focused primarily on tariffs and quotas. Consensus of GATT members was required to enforce the rules. The Uruguay Round expanded GATT rules to cover what is known in trade jargon as "non-tariff barriers to trade". The major countries (especially the so-called "Quad", Japan, the US, Europe and Canada) were the main backers of expanding GATT's powers and areas of responsibility.

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