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DOHA WTO MINISTERIAL 2001: BRIEFING NOTES

MEMBERS AND ACCESSION 
Becoming a member of the WTO

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Contents

> Director-General’s letter to journalists
> Background
>
Least-developed countries (LDCs)
>
Agriculture
>
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures
>
Trade in services
>
Implementation issues
>
Intellectual property (TRIPS)
>
Textiles and clothing
>
Information technology (IT) products
>
Trade and environment
>
Trade and investment
>
Trade and competition policy
>
Transparency in government procurement
>
Trade facilitation
>
Trade and labour standards
>
Disputes
>
Electronic commerce
>
Members and accession
>
Regional trade agreements
>
Some facts and figures
>
Glossary of terms

 

 

 

 


Any state or customs territory having full autonomy in the conduct of its trade policies is eligible to accede to the WTO on terms agreed between it and WTO members (Article XII of the WTO Agreement).

The accession process commences with the submission of a formal written request for accession pursuant to Article XII of the WTO Agreement. This request is considered by the General Council which establishes a Working Party to examine the accession request and to submit recommendations to the General Council which may include a Protocol of Accession. The Working Party is open to all members of the WTO.

Established procedures require the applicant government to present to Working Party members a memorandum covering all aspects of its trade and legal regime. This memorandum forms the basis for detailed fact finding by the Working Party. After examining all aspects of the existing trade and legal regimes of the acceding government, the Working Party goes into the substantive part of the multilateral negotiations involved in accession, i.e. determining the terms and conditions of entry. These terms and conditions, involving commitments to observe WTO rules and disciplines upon accession, and transitional periods if any, are finally incorporated in the Draft Report of the Working Party and the Protocol of Accession.

At the same time, the applicant government engages in bilateral negotiations with interested Working Party members on concessions and commitments on market access for goods and services. This bilateral process determines the specific benefits for WTO members in permitting the applicant to accede to the WTO.

Once both the Working Party’s Draft Report and Protocol of Accession and the market-access commitments in goods and services are completed to the satisfaction of members of the Working Party, the “accession package” is presented to the General Council or the Ministerial Conference for adoption. Once approved, the applicant is then free to sign the Protocol. Thirty days after the applicant government notifies the WTO Secretariat that it has completed its ratification procedures, the applicant government becomes a member of the WTO.

Questions are often raised as to when a WTO applicant can accede to the WTO and whether it joins the WTO as a developing or a developed country. These questions are an inherent part of each WTO accession negotiation. Basically, this involves the granting of certain flexibilities in the implementation of WTO rules and disciplines — a matter determined in the negotiation process. While accession processes vary in length and can take several years to complete, much depends on the speed with which the applicant government is able to adjust its trade and legal regime to the requirements of WTO rules and disciplines.

Because each accession Working Party takes decisions by consensus, WTO members must be in agreement that their individual concerns have been met and that all outstanding issues have been resolved in the course of their deliberations.

Since the WTO was established on 1 January 1995, 29 countries have become WTO members. These are: Albania, Angola, Benin, Bulgaria, Chad, Congo, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Estonia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Mongolia, Niger, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Solomon Islands, and the United Arab Emirates.

With 30 governments still in the queue for membership to the WTO, accession will remain a major challenge for WTO members in the years ahead.

 

Applicants back to top

The following 30 governments have requested to join the WTO and their applications are currently being considered by WTO accession working parties or, as in the case of the People’s Republic of China and Chinese Taipei and Vanuatu pending approval by the Ministerial Conference. Each of the governments listed below has WTO observer status.

Algeria
Andorra
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Belarus
Bosnia Herzegovina
Bhutan
Cambodia
Cape Verde
People’s Republic of China
Kazakhstan
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Lebanon
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Nepal
Russian Federation
Samoa
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Sudan
Chinese Taipei
Tajikistan
Tonga
Ukraine
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Vietnam
Yemen
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

 

Membership of the World Trade Organization back to top

142 governments as of 26 July 2001

Member

Date of membership

Albania

8 September 2000

Angola

1 December 1996

Antigua and Barbuda

1 January 1995

Argentina

1 January 1995

Australia

1 January 1995

Austria

1 January 1995

Bahrain

1 January 1995

Bangladesh

1 January 1995

Barbados

1 January 1995

Belgium

1 January 1995

Belize

1 January 1995

Benin

22 February 1996

Bolivia

13 September 1995

Botswana

31 May 1995

Brazil

1 January 1995

Brunei Darussalam

1 January 1995

Bulgaria

1 December 1996

Burkina Faso

3 June 1995

Burundi

23 July 1995

Cameroon

13 December 1995

Canada

1 January 1995

Central African Republic

31 May 1995

Chad

19 October 1996

Chile

1 January 1995

Colombia

30 April 1995

Congo

27 March 1997

Costa Rica

1 January 1995

Côte d’Ivoire

1 January 1995

Croatia

30 November 2000

Cuba 20 April 1995

Cyprus

30 July 1995

Czech Republic

1 January 1995

Democratic Republic of the Congo

1 January 1997

Denmark

1 January 1995

Djibouti

31 May 1995

Dominica

1 January 1995

Dominican Republic

9 March 1995

Ecuador

21 January 1996

Egypt

30 June 1995

El Salvador

7 May 1995

Estonia

13 November 1999

European Union

1 January 1995

Fiji

14 January 1996

Finland

1 January 1995

France

1 January 1995

Gabon

1 January 1995

Gambia

23 October 1996

Georgia

14 June 2000

Germany

1 January 1995

Ghana

1 January 1995

Greece

1 January 1995

Grenada

22 February 1996

Guatemala

21 July 1995

Guinea Bissau

31 May 1995

Guinea

25 October 1995

Guyana

1 January 1995

Haiti

30 January 1996

Honduras

1 January 1995

Hong Kong, China

1 January 1995

Hungary

1 January 1995

Iceland

1 January 1995

India

1 January 1995

Indonesia

1January 1995

Ireland

1 January 1995

Israel

21 April 1995

Italy

1 January 1995

Jamaica

9 March 1995

Jordan

11 April 2000

Japan

1 January 1995

Kenya

1 January 1995

Korea

1 January 1995

Kuwait

1 January 1995

Kyrgyz Republic

20 December 1998

Latvia

10 February 1999

Lesotho

31 May 1995

Liechtenstein

1 September 1995

Lithuania

31 May 2001

Luxembourg 1 January 1995

Macao, China

1 January 1995

Madagascar

17 November 1995

Malawi

31 May 1995

Malaysia

1 January 1995

Maldives

31 May 1995

Mali

31 May 1995

Malta

1 January 1995

Mauritania

31 May 1995

Mauritius

1 January 1995

Mexico

1 January 1995

Moldova

26 July 2001

Mongolia 29 January 1997

Morocco

1 January 1995

Mozambique

26 August 1995

Myanmar

1 January 1995

Namibia

1 January 1995

Netherlands
— including Netherlands Antilles

1 January 1995

New Zealand

1 January 1995

Nicaragua

3 September 1995

Niger

13 December 1996

Nigeria

1 January 1995

Norway

1 January 1995

Oman

9 November 2000

Pakistan 1 January 1995

Panama

6 September 1997

Papua New Guinea

9 June 1996

Paraguay

1 January 1995

Peru

1 January 1995

Philippines

1 January 1995

Poland

1 July 1995

Portugal

1 January 1995

Qatar

13 January 1996

Romania

1 January 1995

Rwanda

22 May 1996

Saint Kitts and Nevis

21 February 1996

Saint Lucia

1 January 1995

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

1 January 1995

Senegal

1 January 1995

Sierra Leone

23 July 1995

Singapore

1 January 1995

Slovak Republic

1 January 1995

Slovenia

30 July 1995

Solomon Islands

26 July 1996

South Africa

1 January 1995

Spain

1 January 1995

Sri Lanka

1 January 1995

Suriname

1 January 1995

Swaziland

1 January 1995

Sweden

1 January 1995

Switzerland

1 July 1995

Tanzania

1 January 1995

Thailand

1 January 1995

Togo

31 May 1995

Trinidad and Tobago

1 March 1995

Tunisia

29 March 1995

Turkey

26 March 1995

Uganda

1 January 1995

United Arab Emirates

10 April 1996

United Kingdom

1 January 1995

United States

1 January 1995

Uruguay

1 January 1995

Venezuela

1 January 1995

Zambia

1 January 1995

Zimbabwe

3 March 1995