The World Trade Organization (WTO) is a system of trade agreements, having 164 member nations among the world’s 196 countries. Among these trade agreements are the reduction of tariffs, equal trading access to all participating nations, and access to the markets of powerful economies for disadvantaged economies.
These nations of the Global South do not have to lift certain tariffs, in order that there is not too much pressure from competition in their markets. In this way, economically disadvantaged nations (a category that amounts to two-thirds of the members), have the biggest advantage. Specifically, there are 36 designated countries to which the WTO provides extra aid.
The WTO is not designed to favor specific nations, but the smaller, economically disadvantaged nations are given special treatment with a view to level the economic playing field. With the WTO, many member nations, specifically in Africa and Southeast Asia, would remain economically depressed.