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9TH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE, BALI, 2013

Briefing note: WTO accessions — state of play

Yemen's accession package has been forwarded to the 9th Ministerial Conference for formal adoption by ministers on 3-6 December 2013. The Working Party on the Accession of Yemen adopted ad referendum the government’s accession package on 26 September 2013. Yemen will become a member 30 days after it notifies the ratification of the accession package to the WTO.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo issued his first Annual Report on WTO Accessions on 1 November 2013.

Updated: November 2013

THIS EXPLANATION is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.

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Completed accessions since 8th Ministerial Conference

Montenegro, Russia, Samoa and Vanuatu joined the WTO in 2012 and Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Tajikistan in 2013.

Since the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011, the WTO has made significant progress in the area of accessions. In total, 31 accessions have been completed since the WTO was established in 1995.

 

2014 prospects

Several countries are entering or have already entered decisive stages of their accession negotiations, which should be advancing to “technical maturity” in 2014. These include Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Serbia and Seychelles.

Progress and the conclusion of any accession depend on the input of the acceding government. There is always uncertainty due to many factors, including continued negotiations with WTO members, technical complexities, domestic challenges, and possible delays resulting from a country wishing to analyse the impact of a new or amended law.  

 

Countries negotiating their WTO membership

The following 23 countries are currently negotiating their WTO membership.

Country

Application date

Algeria

1987

Belarus

1993

Sudan

1994

Uzbekistan

1994

Seychelles

1995

Kazakhstan

1996

Iran (Working Party established on 26 May 2005)

1996

Azerbaijan

1997

Andorra

1997

Lebanese Republic

1999

Bosnia and Herzegovina

1999

Bhutan

1999

Bahamas

2001

Syrian Arab Republic (Working Party established on 4 May 2010)

2001

Ethiopia

2003

Libya

2004

Iraq

2004

Afghanistan

2004

Serbia

2004

Sao Tomé and Principe

2005

Comoros

2007

Equatorial Guinea

2007

Republic of Liberia

2007

 

Accession process in brief

 

APPLICATION

  (pursuant to Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO and to the 2002 LDC Guidelines reinforced at the 8th Ministerial Conference in 2011)

WORKING PARTY

Negotiations on
trade regime (multilateral) and
market access (bilateral)

GENERAL COUNCIL OR MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ADOPTS ACCESSION PACKAGE (+ protocol and decision)

RATIFICATION OF ACCESSION PACKAGE BY ACCEDING GOVERNMENT

Deposit original notification of acceptance with the WTO Secretariat
membership after 30 days  

 

Accession process in detail

The accession process starts when the candidate government sends a request to the WTO Director-General to become a member.

The General Council then establishes a Working Party composed of WTO members, chaired by an ambassador to a WTO member. This forum for negotiations is open to any member country at any stage of the negotiation.

In examining the applicant's trade policies, the working party identifies the areas where existing laws need to be amended or new laws adopted, to conform to WTO rules. The candidate government must inscribe WTO rules into its national legal system.

In parallel, the applicant negotiates bilaterally with interested members to open its market further to imports of goods and/or services. The signed bilateral agreements are compiled and combined into two documents: the goods and services schedules. At the time of accession, all tariffs and commitments on goods and services are offered on the same terms to all WTO members under the principle of the Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) governing the WTO.

Once the applicant's trade laws meet WTO standards and all bilateral agreements are signed, the working party is ready to adopt the accession package containing five documents:

  • the Working Party Report outlining all the reforms undertaken by the acceding country and its commitments
  • the goods schedule: list of bound and applied tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods
  • the services schedule: list of commitments in market opening in services
  • the Protocol of Accession containing the negotiated terms to become a member, which have been accepted by all other WTO members in the General Council or at a Ministerial Conference - the Protocol includes annexes for the commitments made by the new member on market access for goods and services
  • a decision taken by the General Council or the Ministerial Conference.

Once the working party adopts the accession package, it is forwarded to the General Council or the Ministerial Conference for final adoption. The applicant becomes a member 30 days after the WTO is notified of ratification by the acceding member.

More information available here.

 

Accession Working Party Management

Accession Working Party

Secretary

Co-Secretary

Admin. support

Chiedu Osakwe, Director, Accessions Division

1. Afghanistan*

Varyanik

Intern

Ferdi Demierre

2. Algeria

Pardo de León

Ferdi Demierre

Ferdi Demierre

3. Andorra

accessions@wto.org — No Activity

 

4. Azerbaijan

Pardo de León

Varyanik

Tandara-Stenier

5. Bahamas

Lee

Pardo de León

Tandara-Stenier

6. Belarus

Beslać

Varyanik

Tandara-Stenier

7. Bhutan*

Lee

-

Tandara-Stenier

8. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Beslać

Intern

Tandara-Stenier

9. Comoros, Union of the*

Pardo de León

Intern

Tandara-Stenier

10.Equatorial Guinea*

Yu

-

Ferdi Demierre

11. Ethiopia*

Varyanik

Intern

Ferdi Demierre

12. Iran, the Islamic Republic of

Varyanik

New interns awaited

Ferdi Demierre

13. Iraq

Varyanik

Lee

Ferdi Demierre

14. Kazakhstan

Yu

Varyanik
Intern
Intern

Ferdi Demierre

15. Lebanese Republic

Pardo de León

Intern

Ferdi Demierre

16. Liberia*

Lee

Intern

Tandara-Stenier

17. Libya

Yu

Beslać

Ferdi Demierre

18. Sao Tome et Principe*

Pardo de León

-

Ferdi Demierre

19. Serbia

Beslać

Intern

Tandara-Stenier

20. Seychelles

Beslać

Intern

Tandara-Stenier

21. Sudan*

Lee

Intern

Ferdi Demierre

22. Syrian Arab Republic

Yu

Beslać

Ferdi Demierre

23. Uzbekistan

Lee

-

Tandara-Stenier

24. Yemen*

Yu

Ferdi Demierre
Intern

Ferdi Demierre

* Least-developed countries (LDCs)

 IERD/Media

Melissa Begag, Information Officer for Accessions

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