WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

14 June 2000

Georgia joins the WTO

Georgia became the 137th member of the World Trade Organization today (14 June). WTO Director-General Mike Moore welcomed the event by saying: “I congratulate Georgia on its swift accession and the comprehensive commitments it has taken on. This accession is particularly noteworthy given Georgia’s remarkable transition to a market economy. Georgia is the fourth former Soviet republic to join the WTO and has done so in less than 4 years after applying for membership.”

Georgia applied for WTO membership on 3 July 1996 to start negotiations with the WTO working party on its terms of accessions. The negotiations covered all areas of WTO rules as well as commitments on market access for both goods and services. The results of these negotiations were adopted by the WTO General Council on 6 October 1999 and formally accepted by the national legislature in Tbilisi in May this year.

At the General Council meeting of 6 October 1999, Mr. V. Lordkipanidze, State Minister of Georgia, said: "We believe that expansion of the multilateral trading system will help to stop economic nationalism and protectionism, give countries a fair foothold on the global trading market, thus contributing to a stable and continued economic growth world-wide." He added: "I am convinced that by assuming their rightful place in the global trading system, Georgia and other countries in transition will soon see prosperity and stability increase along with their new, expanded activity in the world economic arena."

At the same meeting, Mrs. Anne Anderson (Ireland), chairperson of Georgia's working party, remarked on Georgia's speedy accession. She said that the rapid pace of this accession process testified to the determination shown by the Georgian authorities to carry through an impressive reform process sustained by a high degree of trade liberalisation and full conformity with WTO rules and disciplines. She pointed out that the fact that Georgia had been able to conclude accession negotiations so rapidly and efficiently proved that when supported by constructive dialogue, intensive preparatory work and good will, the WTO accession procedures had worked well.

Georgia is the fourth former Soviet republic to become a member government of the WTO, after the Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia and Estonia. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan are in the process of negotiating their terms of entry to the WTO.

Overall, 30 governments are currently negotiating to join the WTO: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kazakstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lithuania, Moldova, Nepal, Oman, Russian Federation, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

All documents concerning the accession of Georgia are available on the WTO website under "Documents on-line". As document symbol, type in: WT/ACC/GEO*.

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Merchandise Trade of Georgia

(Million dollars and percentage)
  Exports (fob)     Imports (cif)
  1998 1999     1998 1999
World 190 240   World 1055 600
CIS and Baltic States 105 110   CIS and Baltic States 385 225
Rest of the World 85 130   Rest of the World 670 375
Major partners:  
CIS and Baltic States 55.3   CIS and Baltic States 36.3
Russia 31.7   Russia 20.7
Azerbaijan 9.2   Azerbaijan 8.5
Armenia 7.5   European Union (15) 27.7
Turkey 17.6   Germany 8.0
European Union (15) 9.0   United Kingdom 7.1
Switzerland 6.2   Turkey 10.9
        United States 7.0
Major product groups:            
Food 35.5   Mineral products 31.7
Base metals and articles thereof 20.5   Food 18.7
Mineral Products 16.6   Machinery and mechanical appliances 16.4
Chemicals and Rubber 12.5   Transport facilities 10.2
        Chemical and rubber 9.5