15 April 1994 - Signature of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round at Marrakesh

This image was taken on 15 April 1994 at Marrakech on the occasion of the signature of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round by US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. This signature marks the completion of the Uruguay Round negotiations (1986-1994) that were conducted under the auspices of the GATT, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. These negotiations led to the creation of the WTO.

The WTO in Geneva is the only international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world's trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal of the WTO is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.

There are a number of ways of looking at the World Trade Organization. As an organization for trade opening. As a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements. As a place for them to settle trade disputes. As operating a system of trade rules. Essentially, the WTO is a place where members try to sort out the trade problems they face with each other. The WTO is run by its members. All major decisions are made by the membership as a whole, either by ministers (who usually meet at least once every two years) or by their ambassadors or delegates (who meet regularly in Geneva). The WTO agreements are lengthy and complex because they are legal texts covering a wide range of activities. But a number of simple, fundamental principles run throughout all of these documents. These principles are the foundation of the multilateral trading system.

The Centre William Rappard is the home of the WTO. This building was the first erected in Geneva specifically to house an international organization. The many works of art and decorative items donated by countries over the years underline the collaborative effort its construction represented to the world, at a time when international co-operation was still an aspiration rather than a reality. 

To learn more:

History of the multilateral trading system


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