The World Trade Organization (WTO), established 1 January 1995, is the legal and institutional foundation of the multilateral trading system. It provides the principal contractual obligations determining how governments frame and implement domestic trade legislation and regulations. And it is the platform on which trade relations among countries evolve through collective debate, negotiation, and adjudication. The WTO, successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), not only has a potentially larger membership than GATT, but also has a much broader scope in terms of the commercial activity and trade policies to which it applies. The GATT applied only to trade in merchandise goods; the WTO covers trade in goods, services and trade in ideas or intellectual property.