|World Trade Organization members in green. New members Laos and Tajikistan highlighted (click to enlarge). Map by Evan Centanni, modified from this Wikimedia map by Muso (license: CC BY-SA).|
| Organization Name: |
• World Trade Organization (English)
• Organisation mondiale du commerce (French)
• Organización Mundial del Comercio (Spanish)
Founded: 1994 in Marrakech, Morocco (commenced in 1995)
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
The World Trade Organization (WTO), a global treaty-based organization formed in 1995 to manage and promote international trade, has admitted two new members in recent weeks. This follows the previous admission of four new members last year (which had been approved at the end of 2011).
Laos, a landlocked communist state in Southeast Asia, was approved for membership last October, after 15 years of unsuccessful efforts to join. The country, whose economy is very small but growing rapidly, officially became a member of the WTO on February 2nd. Laos was the last mainland Southeast Asian country to join the organization, meaning the entire region is now represented in the global body.
Tajikistan, a former soviet country in Central Asia, joined the WTO last weekend (March 2nd) after a 12-year-long campaign. The small country, which is also landlocked like Laos, was approved for membership in December. It is the second of the five ex-soviet Central Asian countries to join the organization, after Kyrgyzstan.
The World Trade Organization now has 159 members, including about 80% of the world's countries, plus a few which are not independent countries, such as Hong Kong and the European Union (each of the EU's members also has its own separate membership).
WTO logo is displayed without permission, based on fair use principles (source).