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WTO NEWS: 1998 PRESS RELEASES

PRESS/115
14 October 1998

Latvia to become WTO member

WTO accession negotiations for Latvia concluded successfully today after the WTO's General Council adopted Latvia's working party report and protocol of accession.

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The WTO's General Council concluded that the Working Party on Latvia's accession had completed its work on the package of accession documents (Working Party Report, Protocol of Accession, and Market Access Schedules of Concessions on Goods and Services) allowing Latvia to sign the accession protocol.

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. Latvia will become a WTO member 30 days after it notifies the WTO Secretariat that its national ratification proceedings have been completed.

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.