What is the World Trade Organization

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World Trade Organization

What is the World Trade Organization?

Simply put: the World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the rules of trade between nations at a global or near-global level. But there is more to it than that.

There are a number of ways of looking at the WTO. It’s an organization for liberalizing trade. It’s a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements. It’s a place for them to settle trade disputes. It operates a system of trade rules. (But it’s not Superman, just in case anyone thought it could solve — or cause — all the world’s problems!)

From 1948 to 1994, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) provided the rules for much of world trade and presided over periods that saw some of the highest growth rates in international commerce. It seemed well-established, but throughout those 47 years, it was a provisional agreement and organization.

Meanwhile, 15 countries had begun talks in December 1945 to reduce and bind customs tariffs. With the Second World War only recently ended, they wanted to give an early boost to trade liberalization, and to begin to correct the legacy of protectionist measures which remained in place from the early 1930s.

This first round of negotiations resulted in a package of trade rules and 45,000 tariff concessions affecting $10 billion of trade, about one fifth of the world’s total. The group had expanded to 23 by the time the deal was signed on 30 October 1947. The tariff concessions came into effect by 30 June 1948 through a “Protocol of Provisional Application”. And so the new General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was born, with 23 founding members (officially “contracting parties”).

Miscellaneous income is earned from rental fees and sales of WTO print and electronic publications. The WTO also manages a number of trust funds, which have been contributed by Members. These are used in support of special activities for technical cooperation and training meant to enable least-developed and developing countries to make better use of the WTO and draw greater benefit from the multilateral trading system. The WTO’s total budget for the year 2009 is as follows:

Where countries have faced trade barriers and wanted them lowered, the negotiations have helped to liberalize trade. But the WTO is not just about liberalizing trade, and in some circumstances its rules support maintaining trade barriers — for example to protect consumers or prevent the spread of disease.


Headquarters in Washington D.C.

About the IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 186 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.


The IMF works to foster global growth and economic stability. It provides policy advice and financing to members in economic difficulties and also works with developing nations to help them achieve macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty.

The IMF currently has a near-global membership of 186 countries. To become a member, a country must apply and then be accepted by a majority of the existing members. In June 2009, the former Yugoslav republic of Kosovo joined the IMF, becoming the institution’s 186th member.

Upon joining, each member of the IMF is assigned a quota, based broadly on its relative size in the world economy. The IMF’s membership agreed in May 2008 on a rebalancing of its quota system to reflect the changing global economic realities, especially the increased weight of major emerging markets in the global economy. For more on the quota and voice reform, please go to the section on Country Representation in the Governance section).

The IMF’s main goal is to ensure the stability of the international monetary and financial system. It helps resolve crises, and works with its member countries to promote growth and alleviate poverty. It has three main tools at its disposal to carry out its mandate: surveillance, technical assistance and training, and lending. These functions are underpinned by the IMF’s research and statistics.


The primary mission of the IMF is to provide financial assistance to countries that experience serious financial and economic difficulties using funds deposited with the IMF from the institution’s 186 member countries. Member states with balance of payments problems, which often arise from these difficulties, may request loans to help fill gaps between what countries earn and/or are able to borrow from other official lenders and what countries must spend to operate, including covering the cost of importing basic goods and services. In return, countries are usually required to launch certain reforms, which have often been dubbed the “Washington Consensus“. These reforms are thought to be beneficial to countries with fixed exchange rate policies that may engage in fiscal, monetary, and political practices which may lead to the crisis itself. For example, nations with severe budget deficits, rampant inflation, strict price controls, or significantly over-valued or under-valued currencies run the risk of facing balance of payment crises. Thus, the structural adjustment programs are at least ostensibly intended to ensure that the IMF is actually helping to prevent financial crises rather than merely funding financial recklessness.


Since 1988, Arts for the Aging, Inc., (AFTA) has been providing artistic outreach services to psychologically and physically impaired seniors in senior day care centers and not-for-profit nursing homes in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. AFTA’s mission is to work closely with these senior day care centers and foster participation of seniors in creative and stimulating art activities, allowing them to enjoy an enhanced and healthy aging process as well as feel a deep sense of accomplishment and enjoyment. Although AFTA programs serve seniors with a broad range of age related impairments, emphasis is on those suffering from age related dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Seventy to eighty percent of senior day care center participants have a mild to moderate form of dementia.

AFTA has realized that the elderly are not a homogeneous group. Unfortunately, a large segment of this population is disadvantaged by poverty, ill health and social isolation. AFTA provides 85 programs monthly in more than 50 senior centers in the metropolitan Washington DC area and is proud that the seniors served are reflective of the diversity of Washington. AFTA does not charge for its programs.

Objective of AFTA

AFTA’s art programs include dance, drawing, drumming, music, painting, poetry, sculpture, cultural outings, art lectures and intergenerational programming. Some of the benefits that AFTA has observed from the programs include: working with clay sustains hand joint mobility, which in turn facilitates the participant’s ability to feed and dress themselves; body and dance movement foster balance and help prevent falls; musical activities have the capacity to stimulate as well as calm and to reawaken personal and historical memories related to the era when it was popular, allowing our elderly to actively reminisce in a healthy fashion; the visual arts increase cognitive abilities and hand eye coordination; and including children in the programs increased self-esteem and communication between results in generations. Medical researchers agree on the beneficial relationship between artistic activity and an older person’s well being.

Success of AFTA

The success of AFTA’s workshops is measured by the response of the participants not by the quality of the artwork. AFTA’s intention is not to create artists but instead enhance the quality of life of the participating seniors. Anecdotal observations from program directors and AFTA staff during and after AFTA classes include improvements in alertness, verbalization and socialization skills, lessening of anxiety, passivity and agitation and occasional stimulation of short-term memory. Many center staff members have indicated that these benefits often continue for hours or even days after the art classes had taken place.


About APEC

What is Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation?

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC is the only inter governmental grouping in the world operating on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue and equal respect for the views of all participants. Unlike the WTO or other multilateral trade bodies, APEC has no treaty obligations required of its participants. Decisions made within APEC are reached by consensus and commitments are undertaken on a voluntary basis.

APEC has 21 members – referred to as “Member Economies” – which account for approximately 40.5%1 of the world’s population, approximately 54.2%1 of world GDP and about 43.7%2 of world trade.

APEC’s 21 Member Economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Republic of the Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.

Purpose and Goals

APEC was established in 1989 to further enhance economic growth and prosperity for the region and to strengthen the Asia-Pacific community.

Since its inception, APEC has worked to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region, creating efficient domestic economies and dramatically increasing exports. Key to achieving APEC’s vision are what are referred to as the ‘Bogor Goals’ of free and open trade and

Free and open trade and investment helps economies to grow, creates jobs and provides greater opportunities for international trade and investment. In contrast, protectionism keeps prices high and fosters inefficiencies in certain industries. Free and open trade helps to lower the costs of production and thus reduces the prices of goods and services – a direct benefit to all.

APEC also works to create an environment for the safe and efficient movement of goods, services and people across borders in the region through policy alignment and economic and technical cooperation.


Headquarters – General inquiries

International Fund for Agricultural Development

Via Paolo di Dono, 44

00142 Rome, Italy

Tel: 39-0654591

Fax +39-065043463 – E-mail ifad@ifad.org

About IFAD

About IFAD

IFAD’s mission is to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. The Conference was organized in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa. The conference resolved that “an International Fund for Agricultural Development should be established immediately to finance agricultural development projects primarily for food production in the developing countries”. One of the most important insights emerging from the conference was that the causes of food insecurity and famine were not so much failures in food production, but structural problems relating to poverty and to the fact that the majority of the developing world’s poor populations were concentrated in rural areas.

IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s poorest people – 1.05 billion women, children and men – live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.

Working with rural poor people, governments, donors, non-governmental organizations and many other partners, IFAD focuses on country-specific solutions, which can involve increasing rural poor peoples’ access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources.

IFAD’s Strategic Framework for 2007-2010


IFAD’s goal is to empower poor rural women and men in developing countries to achieve higher incomes and improved food security.


IFAD will ensure that poor rural people have better access to, and the skills and organization they need to take advantage of:

Natural resources, especially secure access to land and water, and improved natural resource management and conservation practices

Improved agricultural technologies and effective production services

A broad range of financial services

Transparent and competitive markets for agricultural inputs and produce

Opportunities for rural off-farm employment and enterprise development

Local and national policy and programming processes

All of IFAD’s decisions – on regional, country and thematic strategies, poverty reduction strategies, policy dialogue and development partners – are made with these <href=”#9″>principles and objectives in mind. As reflected in the strategic framework, IFAD is committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in particular the target to halve the proportion of hungry and extremely poor people by 2015.

IFAD membership

Membership in IFAD is open to any state that is a member of the United Nations or its specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Governing Council is IFAD’s highest decision-making authority, with 165 Member States represented by a Governor and Alternate Governor and any other designated advisers. The Council meets annually. The Executive Board, responsible for overseeing the general operations of IFAD and approving loans and grants, is composed of 18 members and 18 alternate members. The President, who serves for a four-year term (renewable once), is IFAD’s chief executive officer and chair of the Executive Board.


OPEC headquarters in Vienna

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

1st OPEC Conference, Baghdad, September 10–14, 1960, OPEC Board of Governors, Geneva, September 3, 1962, 7th OPEC Conference, Jakarta, November 23–28, 1964

73rd (Extraordinary) OPEC Conference, Geneva, January 28–30, 1985, OPEC Press Conference, Vienna, December 14, 1987, 107th OPEC Conference, Vienna, March 23, 1999

Venezuela was the first country to move towards the establishment of OPEC in the 1960s by approaching Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1949, suggesting that they exchange views and explore avenues for regular and closer communication among petroleum-producing nations. In 10-14 September 1960, at the initiative of the Venezuelan Energy and Mines minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo and the Saudi Arabian Energy and Mines minister Abdullah al-Tariki, the governments of Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela met in Baghdad to discuss ways to increase the price of the crude oil produced by their respective countries.[citation needed] OPEC was founded in Baghdad, triggered by a 1960 law instituted by American President Dwight Eisenhower that forced quotas on Venezuelan and Persian Gulf oil imports in favor of the Canadian and Mexican oil industries. Eisenhower cited national security, land access to energy supplies, at times of war. When this led to falling prices for oil in these regions, Venezuela’s president Romulo Betancourt reacted by seeking an alliance with oil producing Arab nations as a preemptive strategy to maintain the continued autonomy and profitability of Venezuela’s oil resources.


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental Organization, created at the Baghdad Conference on September 10–14, 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The five Founding Members were later joined by nine other Members: Qatar (1961); Indonesia (1962) – suspended its membership from January 2009; Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1962); United Arab Emirates (1967); Algeria (1969); Nigeria (1971); Ecuador (1973) – suspended its membership from December 1992-October 2007; Angola (2007) and Gabon (1975–1994). OPEC had its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the first five years of its existence. This was moved to Vienna, Austria, on September 1, 1965.


OPEC’s objective is to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among Member Countries, in order to secure fair and stable prices for petroleum producers; an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consuming nations; and a fair return on capital to those investing in the industry.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was created in 1960 to unify and protect the interests of oil-producing countries. OPEC allows oil-producing countries to guarantee their income by coordinating policies and prices among them. This unified front was created primarily in response to the efforts of Western oil companies to drive oil prices down. The original members of OPEC included Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. OPEC has since expanded to include seven more countries (Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, and United Arab Emerates) making a total membership of 12.

OPEC Functions Include:


Special Events


Organizing Conferences, Ceremonies and

Visitor Functions

Press and Media Relations

Press Releases

Press Inquiries



Strategic Planning


A national law introducing more restrictive speed limits was instituted, as well as a year-round Daylight Savings Time. The OPEC oil embargo also drove auto manufacturers to produce smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Even after the embargo ended, oil prices continued to rise, and the United States economy continued to suffer.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (or unicef; pronounced was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on this old name. Headquartered in New York City, UNICEF provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries.


UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors and UNICEF’s total income for 2006 was $2,781,000,000. Governments contribute two thirds of the organization’s resources; private groups and some 6 million individuals contribute the rest through the National Committees. UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in 2006.

Structure of the organization and staff

The heart of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories. More than 200 country offices carry out UNICEF’s mission through a unique program of cooperation developed with host governments. Seven regional offices guide their work and provide technical assistance to country offices as needed.

Overall management and administration of the organization takes place at its headquarters in New York. UNICEF’s Supply Division is based in Copenhagen and serves as the primary point of distribution for such essential items as lifesaving vaccines, antiretroviral medicines for children and mothers with HIV, nutritional supplements, emergency shelters, educational supplies, and more. Guiding and monitoring all of UNICEF’s work is a 36-member Executive Board which establishes policies, approves programs and oversees administrative and financial plans. The Executive Board is made up of government representatives who are elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.


Recently, UNICEF has begun partnerships with world-class athletes and teams to promote the organization’s work and to raise funds. Lionel Messi wearing the shirt with the Unicef logo on it.

On 7 September 2006, an agreement between UNICEF and the Catalan association football club FC Barcelona was reached whereby the club would donate 5,000,000 euros per year to the organization for five years. As part of the agreement, FC Barcelona will wear the UNICEF logo on the front of their shirts, which will be the first time a football club sponsored an organization rather than the other way around. It is also the first time in FC Barcelona’s history that they have had another organization’s name across the front of their shirts.

World Bank

Formation 27 December 1944
Type International organization
Legal status Treaty
Purpose/focus Crediting
Membership 186 countries
President Robert B. Zoellick
Main organ Board of Directors<href=”#cite_note-0>[1]
Parent organization World Bank Group
Website http://www.worldbank.org/

The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides leveraged loans to developing countries for capital programs. The World Bank has a stated goal of reducing poverty.

The World Bank differs from the World Bank Group, in that the World Bank comprises only two institutions: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA). Whereas the latter incorporates these two in addition to three more:<href=”#cite_note-WBFAQ-2>[3] International Finance Corporation (IFC), Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank is one of two institutions created at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. The International Monetary Fund, a related institution is the second. Delegates from many countries attended the Bretton Woods Conference. The most powerful countries in attendance were the United States and United Kingdom which dominated negotiations.


The World Bank’s current focus is on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), lending primarily to “middle-income countries” at interest rates which reflect a small mark-up over its own (AAA-rated) borrowings from capital markets; while the IDA provides low or no interest loans and grants to low income countries with little or no access to international credit markets. The IBRD is a market-based nonprofit organization, using its high credit rating to make up for the relatively low interest rate on its loans, while the IDA is funded primarily by periodic “replenishments” (grants) voted to the institution by its more affluent member countries. The Bank’s mission is to aid developing countries and their inhabitants to achieve development and the reduction of poverty, including achievement of the MDGs, by helping countries develop an environment for investment, jobs and sustainable growth, thus promoting economic growth through investment and enabling the poor to share the fruits of economic growth.

The World Bank sees the five key factors necessary for economic growth and the creation of an enabling business environment as:

1. Build capacity: Strengthening governments and educating government officials.

2. Infrastructure creation: implementation of legal and judicial systems for the encouragement of business, the protection of individual and property rights and the honoring of contracts.

The World Bank is active in the following areas:

– Agriculture and Rural Development

– Conflict and Development

– Development Operations and Activities

– Economic Policy

– Education

– Energy

– Environment

– Financial Sector

– Gender

– Governance

– Health, Nutrition and Population

– Industry


The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 186 member countries, while the International Development Association (IDA) has 168 members. Each member state of IBRD should be also a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and only members of IBRD are allowed to join other institutions within the Bank (such as IDA).


The World Bank has long been criticized by non-governmental organizations and academics, including its former Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz who is equally critical of the International Monetary Fund, the US Treasury Department, US and other developed country trade negotiators and indigenous rights groups, such as Survival International.<href=”#cite_note-18>[19] Critics argue that the so-called free market reform policies which the Bank advocates are often harmful to economic development if implemented badly, too quickly (“shock therapy“), in the wrong sequence or in weak, uncompetitive economies.


Membership 7 member countries: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
Chairmanship India (since 2006)
Establishment June 6, 1997


Bay of Bengal Initiative for MultiSectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is an international organisation involving a group of countries in South Asia and South East Asia. The member countries of this group are: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal


On 6 June 1997, a new sub-regional grouping was formed in Bangkok and given the name BIST-EC (Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation). Myanmar attended the inaugural June Meeting as an observer and joined the organization as a full member at a Special Ministerial Meeting held in Bangkok on 22 December 1997, upon which the name of the grouping was changed to BIMST-EC. Nepal was granted observer status by the second Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka in December 1998. Subsequently, full membership has been granted to Nepal and Bhutan in 2004. In the first Summit on 31 July 2004, leaders of the group agreed that the name of the grouping should be known as BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation.


Eligibility: Countries seeking membership should satisfy the conditions of territorial contiguity to, or direct opening into, or primary dependence on the Bay of Bengal for trade and transportation purposes.

Procedure: All applications should be submitted in writing to the Chairman of BIMSTEC. The decision on admitting new members will be taken on the basis of consensus by all the BIMSTEC members. Institutional Structure and Arrangements the BIST-EC Declaration provides for the following institutional mechanisms.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

Members • Observers
Headquarters Kathmandu, Nepal
Membership 8 member states

6 observers

Chairman Mahinda Rajapaksa
Secretary General Sheel Kant Sharma
Establishment December 8, 1985

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in Southern Asia. In terms of population, its sphere of influence is the largest of any regional organization: almost 1.5 billion people, the combined population of its member states.[citation needed] It was established on December 8, 1985 by Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. In April 2007, at the Association’s 14th summit, Afghanistan became its eighth member.

SAARC has intentionally laid more stress on “core issues” mentioned above rather than more decisive political issues like the Kashmir dispute and the Sri Lankan civil war. However, political dialogue is often conducted on the margins of SAARC meetings. SAARC has also refrained itself from interfering in the internal matters of its member states. During the 12th and 13th SAARC summits, extreme emphasis was laid upon greater cooperation between the SAARC members to fight terrorism.

Vision, Mission, Goal:


Current members


Future membership

The People’s Republic of China has shown its interest in joining SAARC. While Pakistan and Bangladesh support China’s candidature, India is more reluctant about the prospect of Chinese membership, while Bhutan does not even have diplomatic relations with China.<href=”#cite_note-13>[14] However, during the 2005 Dhaka summit, India agreed on granting observer status to the PRC along with Japan. During the 14th summit, Nepal along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, announced their support for the membership of China. China seeks greater involvement in SAARC, however, finds it too early to apply for full membership.


Head office

Seat of Secretariat Jakarta
Largest city Jakarta
Working language <href=”#Regional” title=”List of official languages by institution”>English[show]




Chinese (Mandarin)








Demonym Southeast Asian
Member states 10[show]


Burma (Myanmar)









Government Regional organisation

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN (generally pronounced AH-see-ahn, occasionally AH-zee-ahn in English, the official language of the bloc), is a geo-political and economic organisation of 10 countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.<href=”#cite_note-4>[5] Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include the acceleration of economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members, the protection of the peace and stability of the region, and to provide opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.


ASEAN was preceded by an organization called the Association of Southeast Asia, commonly called ASA, an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand that was formed in 1961. The bloc itself, however, was established on 8 August 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries– Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand– met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration. The five foreign ministers– Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand– are considered as the organisation’s Founding Fathers.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a formal, official, multilateral dialogue in Asia Pacific region. As of July 2007, it is consisted of 27 participants. ARF objectives are to foster dialogue and consultation, and promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994. The current participants in the ARF are as follows: all the ASEAN members, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor-Leste, United States and Sri Lanka.<href=”#cite_note-46>[47] The Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) has been excluded since the establishment of the ARF, and issues regarding the Taiwan Strait is neither discussed at the ARF meetings nor stated in the ARF Chairman’s Statements.

Free Trade Area

The foundation of the AEC is the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), a common external preferential tariff scheme to promote the free flow of goods within ASEAN. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) is an agreement by the member nations of ASEAN concerning local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. The AFTA agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore. When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. The latecomers have not fully met the AFTA’s obligations, but they are officially considered part of the AFTA as they were required to sign the agreement upon entry into ASEAN, and were given longer time frames in which to meet AFTA’s tariff reduction obligations.

Football Championship

The ASEAN Football Championship is a biennial Football competition organized by the ASEAN Football Federation, accredited by FIFA and contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia nations. It was inaugurated in 1996 as Tiger Cup, but after Asia Pacific Breweries terminated the sponsorship deal, “Tiger” was renamed “ASEAN”.


Western countries have criticized ASEAN for being too soft in its approach to promoting human rights and democracy in the junta-led Myanmar. Despite global outrage at the military crack-down on peaceful protesters in Yangon, ASEAN has refused to suspend Myanmar as a member and also rejects proposals for economic sanctions. This has caused concern as the European Union, a potential trade partner, has refused to conduct free trade negotiations at a regional level for these political reasons. International observers view it as a “talk shop”, which implies that the organization is “big on words but small on action”.

Commonwealth of Nations

Headquarters Marlborough House, London, United Kingdom
Official language English
Membership 54 sovereign states (list)
Head of the Commonwealth Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 Feb. 1952)
Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma (since 1 Apr. 2008)
Chairperson-in-Office Patrick Manning (since 27 Nov. 2009)
Several relevant dates including: Balfour Declaration 18 November 1926
Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931
London Declaration 28 April 1949


The Commonwealth of Nations, often referred to as the Commonwealth and previously as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states, all but two of which were formerly part of the British Empire. The member states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.<href=”#cite_note-0>[1] These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace.<href=”#cite_note-Singapore_Declaration_text-1>[2]

The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status. Its activities are carried out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General; biennial