The meeting is at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center


SEE ALSO:
Director-General’s message
Background
Built-in Agenda
The WTO agreements and developing countries
Least-developed countries
Agriculture (1)
Agriculture (2)
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures
Services
Intellectual property (TRIPS)
Textiles and clothing
Information technology products
Trade and environment
Trade and investment
Trade facilitation
Trade and competition policy
Transparency in government procurement
Trade and labour standards
Disputes (1)
Disputes (2)
Electronic commerce
Some facts and figures
Glossary of terms

AND:

Other ministerial meetings


MEMBERS AND ACCESSIONS

Becoming a member of the WTO

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 accessions, 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, seven countries have become WTO Members. These are: Ecuador, Estonia, Latvia, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia and Panama. The WTO is awaiting notification of ratification from Georgia.

With 31 governments still in the queue for membership to the WTO, accessions will remain a major challenge for WTO Members in the years ahead.

Applicants

The following 31 governments have requested to join the WTO. Their applications are currently being considered by WTO accession working parties. Each of the governments listed below has WTO observer status. The only ones which have not yet applied to join the WTO are the Holy See (Vatican) and, for the time being, Ethiopia, Cape Verde and Yemen.

Albania
Algeria
Andorra
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Bosnia Herzegovina
Bhutan
Cambodia
People’s Republic of China
Croatia
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Lebanon
Lithuania
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Moldova
Nepal
Oman, Sultanate of
Russian Federation
Samoa
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Sudan
Chinese Taipei
Tonga
Ukraine
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Vietnam

Note: The WTO is waiting for confirmation of ratification from Georgia. It will become the 136th Member of the WTO 30 days after the WTO receives confirmation of ratification.

Membership of the World Trade Organization
135 governments as of 13 November 1999

Member Date of membership
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
C˘te d’Ivoire 1 January 1995
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 Communities 1 January 1995
Fiji 14 January 1996
Finland 1 January 1995
France 1 January 1995
Gabon 1 January 1995
Gambia 23 October 1996
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
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
Luxembourg 1 January 1995
Macau 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
Mongolia 29 January 1997
Morocco 1 January 1995
Mozambique 26 August 1995
Myanmar 1 January 1995
Namibia 1 January 1995
Netherlands — inlcuding 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
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