18 August 2003

Nepal set to join WTO at Cancún Ministerial Conference

Nepal’s membership negotiation ended on 15 August when the WTO working party wrapped up its work. Following closely behind Cambodia, Nepal is set to be the second least-developed country to join the WTO through the full working party process. Both countries’ membership is likely to be approved at the Cancún Ministerial Conference in September.

The WTO working party handling Nepal's membership negotiation completed its work, Friday 15th of August, leaving a final decision approving membership for the Cancún Ministerial Conference, in September.

The working party approved its report containing Nepal’s commitments under various WTO agreements, along with its promises on market access for goods and services.

Nepal is now on target for its membership to be approved by the next Ministerial Conference, although it can only become a member 30 days after it has ratified the agreement and informed the WTO. This would make Nepal and Cambodia the first least-developed countries to join the WTO through the full working party process since the WTO was set up in 1995. Cambodia completed its negotiations on 22 of July and the package of accession documents are also expected to be approved at the Ministerial Conference in Cancún.

After the adoption of the accession package, Mr. Dinesh Pyakural, Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and Chief Negotiator for Nepal, said that in the process of bilateral negotiations Nepal has bound the tariff rate at around 42% in agricultural products and around 24% in other products.

Mr. Dinesh Pyakural said: “We are confident that WTO membership will enhance our capacity and capability to be more competitive in trade through policy and legislative reforms to attain an overall increase in trade efficiency and effectiveness”.

The chairman of the Working Party, ambassador Pierre Louis Girard, said, after the adoption of the accession package: “This is an important step in making the WTO a more global organization with an appropriate representation of the Least Developed Countries”.

The Working Party to consider the application of Nepal to join the WTO was established in June 1999.