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WTO NEWS: 2004 NEWS ITEMS

13 December 2004
GENERAL COUNCIL 13 DECEMBER 2004

Accession working parties established for Afghanistan, Iraq

The General Council, on 13 December 2004, established working parties to examine, respectively, the membership applications of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Afghanistan was invited to attend meetings of the General Council, and as appropriate, meetings of other WTO bodies as an observer.

Ambassador Assad Omer, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan, in thanking members, said that after two decades of conflict, his government has significantly improved the economic climate.

“The peaceful completion of our first direct presidential elections ... has heralded a new era of political stability”, he said.

Ambassador Omer said that his country hoped to re-establish itself as the land bridge for trans-continental trade.

“We believe that participation in the international trading system will lead to more trade, investment, technology transfer, employment and income growth throughout the economy”, he said.

Iraq was invited to continue attending meetings of the General Council and, as appropriate, meetings of other WTO bodies as an observer.

Trade Minister Mohammed Mustafa Al-Jibouri said his country viewed the decision as “yet another contribution on the part of the WTO to Iraq's efforts to reform its economy”.

He said that since the General Council's decision last February to grant observer status to Iraq, his government has started accession preparations in earnest, including the drafting of its Foreign Trade Regime Memorandum and the creation of a National Committee for WTO Accession.

“The new Iraq looks with great optimism at achieving political stability, economic prosperity and social development ... we believe that our reintegration into the world trading system is an essential element to fulfil those aims,” he said.

Regarding another membership request, that from Iran, the Chairman, Ambassador Shotaro Oshima of Japan, reported on his recent consultations. He said that although it was clear that a large part of the membership continued to be supportive of an early and positive action on this request, there was still no consensus at that stage to accept the request and to set up a working party for this purpose.

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