Many people and businesses get confused about the myriad of international organisations concerned with international trade law and policy. The Council for Trade is one of the bodies that businesses and industry should be aware of.
The Council for Trade in Goods (the Goods Council) is an international body and part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is responsible for the workings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) which governs the rules on the international trade in goods. The Goods Council is made up of representatives from all WTO member countries.
The Goods Council is one of three major councils handling broad areas of international trade law, who report to the General Council of the WTO. The other two councils are the Council for Trade in Services (the Services Council) and the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Council).
The Goods Council then has 11 committees underneath it which deal with specific subjects of the trade of goods. The areas which these committees govern are diverse and include:
For example, the market access for goods committee considers the use of tariffs and other barriers to trade by different countries. The committee seeks to continually improve market access and to facilitate negotiations between member states to this end. An international trade lawyer should be up-to-date with developments that may be relevant to your business, industry or country in the future.
Each of these committees will discuss the main issues with the Goods Council. Important matters will then be heard by the General Council of the WTO. The WTO General Council is responsible for the day-to-day activities and operations of the WTO. The General Council then reports to the Ministerial Conference. Businesses who are interested to know the workings of the Goods Council, including how it affects their operations and whether they can have any influence on it, should contact an international trade lawyer for legal advice.