Canada and the World Trade Organization
Established in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) helps create rules for trade between its 164 members.
Canada is strong proponent of the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. Creating opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses through WTO participation is a central part of our trade strategy. The WTO provides a framework for pursuing those objectives on a global scale.
Canada has been a member of the WTO since the organization's establishment on January 1, 1995.
- administers WTO trade agreements
- provides a forum for trade negotiations
- handles trade disputes
- monitors members’ trade policies to help ensure compliance the WTO's trade agreements
- administers technical assistance and training for developing countries
Canada endorses the goal of universal membership in the WTO, and participates in all negotiations concerning countries seeking to join the organization.
How to become a member of the WTO
WTO members and observers
Canada has been an active participant in many WTO disputes, including as a complainant, respondent, or third party. Participation in the WTO dispute settlement is a key way to help ensure the rights of Canadians traders are protected and help maintain the integrity of the dispute settlement system as a whole.
WTO dispute settlement
Negotiations at the WTO
Trade negotiations are an important function of the WTO. Read about Canada’s participation in negotiations to open markets on a global scale.
Negotiations at the WTO
The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the WTO. The Conference meets at least once every two years and is attended by the trade ministers of WTO members. The Conference can decide all matters under any multilateral trade agreement.
WTO Ministerial Conferences
WTO committees and councils
The WTO has a number of specialized committees and councils, working groups and working parties. These groups deal with agreements covering a wide range of trade-related issues.
- General Council
- Committee on regional trade agreements
- Committee on balance payments restrictions
- Committee on budget, finance and administration
- Working party on accession
- Working group on trade, debt and finance
- Working group on trade and technology transfer
- Council for trade in goods
- Committee on market access
- Committee on agriculture
- Committee on sanitary and phytosanitary measures
- Committee on technical barriers to trade
- Committee on subsidies and countervailing measures
- Committee on anti-dumping practices
- Committee on customs valuation
- Committee on rules of origin
- Committee on import licensing
- Committee on trade-related investment measures
- Committee on safeguards
- Working party on state-trading enterprises
- Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
- Council for trade in services, its committees and other subsidiary bodies
Trade policy reviews
Surveillance of national trade policies is a fundamentally important activity running throughout the work of the WTO. The WTO reviews the trade policies of its members at regular intervals. Canada participates in each review. The objectives of a trade policy review include facilitating the smooth functioning of the multilateral trading system by enhancing the transparency of Members’ trade policies. The frequency of each country’s review varies according to its share of world trade. Canada is reviewed every four years. Canada’s 10th review was in 2015. The WTO Director-General reports regularly on recent trade developments.
If you have questions or comments about this initiative we would like to hear from you. Please contact the Department of Global Affairs Canada at:
Trade Policy and Negotiations Division (TCW)
Global Affairs Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 promenade Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0G2
- Basic principles of the WTO trading system
- Understanding the WTO: The agreements
- WTO legal texts
- Permanent Mission of Canada to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland
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