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World Trade Organization (WTO)
At the end of WWII, a large block of countries signed a treaty known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The purpose of the treaty was to demonstrate an intent to foster trade among the countries of the world. In 1995, 123 countries signed the Marrakesh Agreement, which replaced the GATT and formed the WTO. The WTO provides a framework for developing trade agreements between countries. The purpose of this organization is to foster trade and competition while avoiding trade practices that detriment society at large. The WTO also provides a forum and procedure for resolving trade disputes between its member countries. Member nations agree to adhere to WTO policies and to any result from the dispute resolution process. This includes honoring sanctions levied by the WTO against a nation that fails to adhere to WTO policies or decisions. A notable contribution of the WTO to trade policy is the development of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). TRIPS is a model agreement that deals with recognition and enforcement of intellectual property rights among signatory nations. Specifically, it seeks to curb the theft or misuse of intellectual property through the international sale of counterfeit goods or copyrighted property. TRIPS also provides a dispute resolution system for disagreements regarding intellectual property rights and enforcement among nations.