World Trade Organisation

World Trade Organization, WTO

Iceland is a founding member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which forms the legal and organisational framework around the multinational trading system. The fundamental goal of the organisation is to increase liberalisation and to ensure legal certainty in world trade, thereby encouraging economic growth and development. WTO's scope of operation involves, for the most part, the improved GATT agreement (GATT 1994), but is not limited to this agreement. There are a total of 29 agreements under the auspices of the organisation, including agreements on agriculture, trade in services, intellectual property rights and the settlement of disputes. WTO is intended to monitor the implementation of these agreements, to be a forum for multinational negotiations in the field of business, to resolve business disputes that may arise between parties to the agreement, and to examine their business policies on a regular basis.

The Ministry of Industry participates in co-operation within the WTO regarding the categories that the Ministry is responsible for.


TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) was created following the Uruguay discussions in 1986–1994. With the agreement, the rules on intellectual property rights were for the first time brought into the international trade environment. The impetus for the agreement was the fact, among other things, that intellectual property rights were becoming increasingly important in business and that rules on their protection and the observance of such rules differed between countries.

The goal of the TRIPS agreement was to bridge the gap between the differing rules applying to the protection of intellectual property rights and their observance and, at the same time, to establish international rules. The agreement provided for the minimum protection that member states shall grant the intellectual property rights of other countries.

The agreement has four important aspects: the manner in which the basic principles of the business environment and the provisions of international agreements on intellectual property rights should be used; the manner in which intellectual property is provided with the appropriate protection; the manner in which the member states shall enforce these rights in their respective countries; and the manner in which disputes between member states shall be resolved.

The intellectual-property-rights fields that fall under the TRIPS agreement include trademarks, patents, design and copyright.

As a party to the WTO, Iceland has adapted Icelandic legislation to the provisions of the TRIPS agreement. For instance, the provisions of Article 132 of the Customs Act No 88/2005 take account of the third part of the agreement which provides for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. The article sets forth specific requirements as regards border controls, which enable the proprietor of a trademark or intellectual property to demand cessation of customs clearance of a product which the proprietor has valid reason to suspect has been manufactured in violation of these rights.