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State Trading Enterprises

State trading enterprises are defined as governmental and non-governmental enterprises, including marketing boards, which deal with goods for export and/or import.

Article XVII of the GATT 1994 requires Members to ensure that state trading enterprises (STEs), as defined in that Article, act in a manner consistent with the general principle of non-discriminatory treatment, make purchases or sales solely in accordance with commercial considerations, and abide by other GATT disciplines.

The Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XVII of the GATT 1994 defines a state trading enterprise more narrowly for the purposes of providing a notification that is required under the Understanding. Members must notify the Working Party of enterprises in their respective territories that meet this definition, whether or not such enterprises have imported or exported goods. Members are required to submit new and full notifications to the Working Party for review every two years.

The Working Party on State Trading Enterprises was established in 1995 to review Member notifications of STEs and the coverage of STEs that are notified, and to develop an illustrative list of relationships between Members and their STEs and the kinds of activities engaged in by these enterprises.

STEs are addressed in the following agreements:

• Article XVII of GATT 1994

• The Understanding on the Interpretation of Article XVII of the GATT 1994

These agreements can be accessed on the WTO website.

Additional information on WTO work related to STEs can be accessed through the WTO website.

Documents related to the work of the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises can be accessed through the WTO “Documents Online” website. For help in navigating this website, select “Help” in the navigation bar at the top of the screen after opening the website.

• Annual Reports of the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises to the General Council can be obtained by searching under the Document Code G/L/% (where % takes additional values), and Document Title “Working Party on State Trading Enterprises”.

• Minutes of the meetings of the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises can be obtained by searching under the Document Code G/STR/M/% (where % takes additional values).

• Notifications to the Working Party on State Trading Enterprises can be obtained by searching under the Document Code G/STR/N/% (where % takes additional values).

• Questions and replies by Members concerning STE Notifications can be obtained by searching under the Document Code G/STR/Q/% (where % takes additional values).