The WTO administers 29 agreements; these cover different areas like trade in goods and services, investment measures, intellectual property rights, etc. Some of the important WTO agreements are as follows:
1) GATT 1994: The cornerstone of trade relations is the area of goods. Differential and more favourable treatment to developing countries is permitted under the 1979 Enabling Clause with respect to tariffs in the context of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences and Non-tariff measures, notwithstanding the Most Favoured Nation Clause, and with respect to regional or global arrangements concluded by the developing countries.
2) Agreements integrating practices otherwise on the margin of GATT rules include TRIMS (Trade Related Investment Measures): GATT inconsistent TRIMS are required to be notified and eliminated within a transition period of two years (developed countries), five years (developing countries) or seven years (least-developed countries). A further extension may be requested by developing and least-developed countries. The Agreement on Safeguards prohibits the use of "grey-area measures", such as voluntary restraints or orderly marketing arrangements; such measures are to be notified and eliminated.
3) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing: It provides for the eventual elimination of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) after a ten-year transition period on 1-1-2005. Under the MFA, the exporters were subjected to bilaterally agreed quantitative restraints or unilaterally sponsored restraints on imports. These applied typically at the product level but in some cases to various aggregates as well.
4) Agreement on Services: The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the first multilateral agreement on trade that has its objective the progressive liberalisation of trade in services. The Agreement covers trade in all services sectors and the supply of service in all forms.
5) TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights): The main features of the TRIPS agreement are as follows: i) Minimum standards of protection to be provided by each member. ii) Domestic procedures and remedies for the enforcement of IPRs. iii) Dispute settlement between the WTO members. TRIPs agreements cover the following areas: Copyright and related rights, trademarks including service marks, geographical indications including appellations of origin, industrial designs, patents including the protection of new varieties of plants, the lay-out designs of integrated circuits and undisclosed knowledge including trade secrets and test date.
6) Agreement on Subsidies and Counter-veiling Measures (SCM): The SCM applies to non-agricultural products. It follows the traffic lights approach and classifies subsidies in three categories:
i) Red: Subsidies with high trade-distorting effects, such as export subsidies, and those that favour the use of domestic over imported goods are prohibited.
ii) Green: Subsidies that are not specific to an enterprise or industry or a group of enterprises or industries are non-actionable.
iii) Amber: Subsidies that are neither red nor green belong to the amber category. They are actionable by the trading partners if their interests are adversely hit. The affected country can seek remedy through the dispute-settlement procedures or go for counter-veiling duties.