WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

17 July 2000

WTO membership of Albania, Croatia approved

The General Council, on 17 July 2000, approved the entry of Albania and Croatia to the WTO. The two countries become members 30 days after they have notified the organization that they have completed ratification procedures.

The General Council also established working parties to examine, respectively, the membership applications of Cape Verde and Yemen. It granted Bahamas' request for WTO observer status.

The impending entry of Albania and Croatia will expand WTO membership to 139 governments. With the addition of Cape Verde and Yemen, there are now 29 countries--including China, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia--negotiating their membership into the organization.

WTO Director-General Mike Moore welcomed the General Council decisions as “historic” for the two countries, which have been engaged in membership negotiations for the past seven years.

Mr. Moore noted that the decisions were made on the day when in 1947, the 23 original members signed up to the WTO's predecessor, the GATT.

To Albania, the Director-General said that "joining the WTO sends a powerful signal to the world that Albania has opted for reform rather than reaction, openness rather than isolation".

To Croatia, Mr. Moore said that WTO membership “should boost economic growth, and raise living standards in Croatia still further”.

Mr. Moore expressed the hope that through closer trade “the WTO can, in a small way, help foster greater peace and stability in south-eastern Europe”.

During the General Council meeting, Albania's Minister for Economic Cooperation and Trade Ermelinda Meksi said that WTO membership “presents us with a new role in the international community” and would help bring “improvement of the wellbeing and prosperity of my people”.

Croatia's Minister of Economy Goranko Fizulic expressed confidence that membership “shall have a significant positive effect on the Croatian economy, as it is in many aspects crucial for the ongoing process of economic reforms”.