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WTO NEWS: 1998 NEWS ITEMS

29 October 1998
General Council paves the way for WTO membership
of the Kyrgyz Republic and Latvia

The General Council took decisions on 14 October that would enable the Kyrgyz Republic and Latvia to become WTO members shortly. It adopted these countries' working party reports and protocols of accession, which set out their respective WTO commitments. The Kyrgyz Republic and Latvia become WTO members 30 days after they notify the WTO Secretariat that their respective national ratification proceedings have been completed.

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WTO Members concluded their negotiations on the Kyrgyz Republic's goods and services trade and adopted the draft protocol of accession and the Working Party's draft report in July 1998. The documents constitute the set of WTO obligations, tariff concessions on goods and specific commitments on services made by the Kyrgyz Republic during almost two and a half years of negotiations with other WTO Members.

Mr. Esengul Omuraliev, Head of the Kyrgyz's Republic's Inter-Ministerial Commission on WTO, signed the protocol of accession following the adoption of the protocol by the General Council. The Kyrgyz Republic will become a member of the WTO 30 days after it notifies the WTO Secretariat that its national ratification proceedings have been completed.

The Kyrgyz Republic first applied for WTO membership in February 1996. A working party was established in April 1996 and a first meeting was held in March 1997. Of the new republics created after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union in 1991 and which are currently seeking WTO membership, the Kyrgyz Republic is the first to have completed its negotiations.

Dr. Valdis Birkavs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, signed the protocol of accession of Latvia following the adoption of the protocol by the General Council.

The working party on Latvia's accession to the GATT was established in 1993 and was converted to a WTO working party in 1995. The Working Party met for the first time in March 1995. In September 1998, it adopted by consensus the draft report, protocol of accession and the schedules of concessions on goods and services. Latvia has agreed to bring its economic and trade regime into conformity with WTO rules and obligations in all areas.

The following 30 governments have requested to join the WTO. Their applications are currently being considered by accession working parties: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lithuania, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Nepal, Oman, Sultanate of, Russian Federation, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.