The WTO has 164 members and 24 observational governments.  Liberia became the 163rd member on 14 July 2016 and Afghanistan on 164th on 29 July 2016.   In addition to the Member States, the European Union and each EU country are members. WTO members are not required to be fully independent states; they must only be a fully autonomous customs territory in the conduct of their external relations. Hong Kong has been a member since 1995 (since 1997 as “Hong Kong, China” before the People`s Republic of China, which joined the People`s Republic of China in 2001 after 15 years of negotiations. Taiwan joined the WTO in 2002 as “separate customs territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.”  The WTO secretariat does not take into account the official titles (such as advisers, first secretary, second secretary and third secretary) of members of Taiwan`s permanent representation to the WTO, with the exception of the titles of permanent representative and deputy permanent representative.  The growth of international trade has led to a complex and increasingly broad primary law, including international treaties and agreements, national legislation and trade dispute settlement jurisprudence. This research guide focuses primarily on the multilateral trading system managed by the World Trade Organization. It also contains information on regional and bilateral trade agreements, including those involving the United States. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of International Economic Law, “almost all the latest preferential trade agreements (EPAs) explicitly refer to the WTO, often dozens of times in several chapters.
Similarly, in many of these EDPs, we find that essential parts of the language of the treaty – the majority of a chapter at a given time – are literally copied from a WTO agreement… the WTO`s presence in the EPZs has increased over time.  In December 2013, the largest agreement was signed within the WTO and known as the Bali Package.  Studies show that the WTO has stimulated trade and that without the WTO, trade barriers would be higher.  The WTO has strongly influenced the text of trade agreements, as “almost all recent preferential trade agreements (EEAs) explicitly refer to the WTO, often dozens of times in several chapters… In many of these EDPs, we find that essential parts of the language of the treaty – the majority of a chapter at a given time – are literally copied from a WTO agreement.  In the UN`s Goal 10, WTO agreements have also been cited as instruments for reducing inequality.  Can a country join? Yes, as long as it controls its own trade policy. The candidate country for membership is called an observer.
She can remain an observer for five years. This gives him time to learn more about the WTO. An observation country can participate in WTO meetings and receive technical assistance. In return, it must contribute to the WTO and the final phase of accession includes bilateral negotiations between the candidate country and other members of the Working Group on Concessions and Commitments on tariff levels and market access for goods and services. These discussions focus on specific market access tariffs and obligations, as well as other policies in the goods and services sector. The new member`s obligations will apply equally to all WTO members, even if they are negotiated bilaterally, in accordance with the usual rules of non-discrimination.