The fundamental principles of the WTO are:
Trade without discrimination . Under the "most-favored nation" (MFN) clause, members are bound to grant to the products of other members no less favorable treatment than that accorded to the products of any other country. The provision on "national treatment" requires that once goods have entered a market, they must be treated no less favorably than the equivalent domestically-produced good.
Predictable and growing access to markets . While quotas are generally outlawed, tariffs or customs duties are legal in the WTO. Tariff reductions made by over 120 countries in the Uruguay Round are contained in some 22,500 pages of national tariff schedules which are considered an integral part of the WTO. Tariff reductions, for the most part phased in over five years, will result in a 40% cut in industrial countries' tariffs in industrial products from an average of 6.3% to 3.8%. The Round also increased the percentage of bound product lines to nearly 100% for developed nations and countries in transition and to 73% for developing countries. Members have also undertaken an initial set of commitments covering national regulations affecting various services activities. These commitments are, like those for tariffs, contained in binding national schedules.
Promoting fair competition . The WTO extends and clarifies previous GATT rules that laid down the basis on which governments could impose compensating duties on two forms of "unfair" competition: dumping and subsidies. The WTO Agreement on agriculture is designed to provide increased fairness in farm trade. An agreement on intellectual property will improve conditions of competition where ideas and inventions are involved, and another will do the same thing for trade in services.
Encouraging development and economic reform . GATT provisions intended to favor developing countries are maintained in the WTO, in particular those encouraging industrial countries to assist trade of developing nations. Developing countries are given transition periods to adjust to the more difficult WTO provisions. Least-developed countries are given even more flexibility and benefit from accelerated implementation of market access concessions for their goods.