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An Outline of International Trade Institutions and Agreements

Last updated date: 16th May 2024
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What are the Three Major International Institutions?

The First World War and the Second World War adversely affected almost all the world's economies. Lack of resources prevented countries from starting reconstruction and development work. Even international trade between nations got affected adversely because of the disruption in the world’s monetary system. That's when a meeting was held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to identify measures to restore peace and normalcy in the world.

The meeting concluded with the setting up of three major international institutions, namely The International Monetary Fund, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Trade Organisation. They considered these three organisations as pillars of the world's economic development.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The IMF was established in 1945. As of 2005, 191 countries are its members. The main idea underlying the creation of the IMF was the development of an orderly international monetary system, i.e., facilitating global payment systems and adjusting exchange rates between national currencies.

Objectives of IMF

  • Promotion of international monetary cooperation.

  • To Promote the expansion of balanced growth in international trade.

  • Promoting and maintaining high levels of employment and real incomes.

  • promoting exchange rate stability to maintain orderly exchange arrangements among member countries.

  • Assist in setting up multilateral payment systems for ongoing transactions between members.

Functions of IMF

Some of the functions of the international monetary fund are described below-

  • Role as a short-term credit institution.

  • Acts as a hoard of currency for all member countries from which borrowing countries can borrow currencies of other countries.

  • Function as a credit institution for foreign currency and current transactions.

World Bank

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is also known as the World Bank. The main goal behind this international organisation was to help rebuild the economies of war-affected Europe and to assist the development of the world's developing countries. The World Bank then turned its attention to developing countries.

Objectives of World Bank

  • The objectives of the world bank include providing long-term capital to member countries for economic development and reconstruction.

  • It helps to guide long-term capital and improve the balance of payments, thereby balancing international trade.

  • It ensures that development projects are delivered. Thus it brings transparency to the country from wartime to a peaceful economy.

  • It also helps by providing guarantees against loads imposed on large and small units and other projects in the Member States.

  • It also encourages capital investment in member countries by providing guarantees for capital investments and loans.


The Functions of the world bank are-

  • To support war-torn countries by providing loans for reconstruction. In doing so, they provide a wealth of experience, and World Bank resources help poor countries boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and achieve better standards of living.

  • It also supports developing countries by providing development loans. As such, it provides loans to various governments for irrigation, agriculture, water supply, health, education, and more.

  • It encourages foreign investment in other organisations by guaranteeing loans.

  • The World Bank also provides economic, financial and technical advice to member countries on all projects. In this way, introducing various economic reforms promotes industrial development in developing countries.

World Trade Organisation (WTO) and Important Trade Agreements

Let’s discuss some of the most important trade agreements of the World Bank.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was signed on January 1, 1948, liberating the world from high tariffs and other restrictions. Establishing a permanent body to promote free trade between countries is one of the most outstanding achievements of the GATT negotiations. This is one of the WTO's most important trade agreements. On January 1, 1995, the World Trade Organisation replaced the GATT organisation.


  • To ensure that various countries' tariffs and other trade barriers are removed.

  • It is improving living standards and creating employment opportunities.

  • To increase income and effective demand, facilitating increased production and trade.

  • Ensure efficient use of the earth's resources for sustainable development.

  • Promote a more integrated, sustainable and durable trading system.


  • Promote an environment that encourages Member States to turn to the WTO to alleviate grievances.

  • Establishing generally accepted codes of conduct aimed at removing barriers to trade, including tariffs, and eliminating discrimination in international trade relations.

  • Acting as a Dispute Resolution Body Ensuring proper compliance with all regulations required by law for the Member States to resolve disputes.

Case Study:

The commerce ministry has conducted several meetings to finalise the foreign trade policy. Several steps were considered, such as announcing the new WTO- complaint export incentive scheme and the new foreign trade policy for the next five years in 2022 to push the country’s export. Explain the role that needs to be performed by WTO here. Explain the part that needs to be completed by WTO here

Ans. The commerce ministry conducted a series of meetings, made several announcements, and took steps to finalise the foreign trade policy. So the role that needs to be performed by WTO for its successful implementation is discussed below-

  • To offer a platform for members to negotiate global trade agreements.

  • To Facilitate the settlement of trade disputes among the members.

  • Oversee national trade policy.

  • To Cooperate with other international institutions that are involved in global policy making.

  • To administer and implement the multilateral trade agreements.


The 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which established the International Monetary Policy Organisation, recognized the need for an equivalent international trading organisation to complement the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Bretton Woods Conference was attended by representatives of the Treasury Department rather than the Department of Commerce, suggesting why no trade deal was negotiated at the time. World Trade Organisations and other reforms carried out by the governments of different countries have also been significant contributors to the increased interaction and business relations amongst the nations.

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FAQs on An Outline of International Trade Institutions and Agreements

1. What are the benefits of WTO?

Some of the benefits of the world trade organisation are discussed below-

  • It promotes international peace and the facilitation of international trade.

  • To settle disputes among member countries.

  • It Makes international trade much smoother by establishing standard rules and regulations.

  • Helps in the economic growth of developing countries by giving them preferential treatment

  • Free trade helps provide quality products and improve people's standard of living; it also helps raise their income level. 

  • Free trade helps in increasing the economic growth.

  • It also helps in the development of poorer countries.

2. What are the three Major International Institutions?

The International Monetary Fund, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank)  and the International Trade Organisation are three major international institutions. These organisations were three pillars of the economic development of the world. While the World Bank was assigned the task of reconstructing war-torn economies, especially the ones in Europe, the IMF was entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the stabilisation of exchange rates to make way for the expansion of world trade. The primary purpose of the ITO, as they could have foreseen at the time, was to promote and facilitate international trade between member countries by overcoming the various restrictions and discrimination in force at the time.

3. What are the functions of the IMF?

The IMF was established in 1945. As of 2005, 191 countries are members. The main idea was to develop an orderly international monetary system, i.e., facilitating international payment systems and adjusting exchange rates. Some functions of IMF are described below-

  • Role as a short-term credit institution 

  • Acts as a hoard of currency for all member countries from which borrowing countries can borrow currencies of other countries 

  • Function as a credit institution for foreign currency and current transactions