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General Council

The WTO General Council is the highest-level decision-making body in the WTO that meets on a regular basis during the year. It exercises all of the authority of the Ministerial Conference, which is required to meet no less than once every two years.

Only the Ministerial Conference and the General Council have the authority to adopt authoritative interpretations of the WTO Agreements, to submit amendments to the Agreements for consideration by Members, and to grant waivers of obligations. The General Council or the Ministerial Conference must approve the terms for all accessions to the WTO.

Technically, both the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) and the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) are General Council meetings that are convened for the purpose of discharging the responsibilities of the DSB and TPRB, respectively.

Four major bodies report directly to the General Council: the Council for Trade in Goods, the Council for Trade in Services, the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, and the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC).

In addition, the Committee on Trade and Environment, the Committee on Trade and Development, the Committee on Balance of Payments Restrictions, the Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration, and the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements report directly to the General Council.