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The WTO has achieved much over its first 20 years – perhaps even more than some of its defenders recognize. Global trade barriers are historically low, international trade rules are respected, participation in an open, increasingly integrated and rules-based world trading system has become nearly universal. More members are making use of the dispute settlement system and – with each new case – a more relevant body of WTO trade law develops. More members have access to information, not just about national trade policies, but about international trade relations as well, through the WTO's transparency and surveillance mechanisms. And more members are using WTO councils, committees, and working groups to coordinate policies and head-off disputes, providing a "soft power" complement to "hard power" rules. The fact that members are increasingly committed to expanding cooperation, respecting rules and resolving disputes through the WTO – even during periods of economic crises and uncertainty – is the strongest testament to the system's success.

Related Topics: The WTO
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