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This fact was correct when it was updated on 24 Sep 2020

What is the World Trade Organisation (WTO)?

The WTO was set up in 1994 as the result of a major overhaul of the system of trade rules set up after the Second World War. Its purpose is to make trade between WTO members easier, not only when it comes to buying and selling goods across borders (such as televisions, phones, cars and so on) but also in rapidly growing areas such as services (the likes of banking, insurance and law). WTO members—of which there are 164—include both individual countries, and the EU and three ‘customs territories’ of China, and all decisions are taken by them collectively.

Read our report on the WTO.

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