3 October 2005

Yemen accession negotiations 3rd October 2005

Yemen's Industry and Trade Minister Khaled Rajeh Sheikh, at the second meeting of the country's working party on 3 October 2005, said that WTO membership is “a necessary step and an important component in our efforts to integrate into the world economy”.

The Working Party for the accession of Yemen to the WTO held its second meeting on Monday October 3rd 2005 with the first review of the Factual Summary, which contains the main subjects under discussion, a continued general examination of the Foreign Trade Regime and a Review of Legislative Developments.

Yemen, an LDC that negotiates following the guidelines approved by the General Council in December 2002 enabling the world’s poorest countries to join more quickly and easily, circulated its initial offer on services in August this year and the initial offer on goods in early September.

At the meeting the head of Yemen’s delegation, Khaled Rajeh Sheikh, Minister of Industry and Trade, said that his country is committed to accession to the WTO “as a necessary step and an important component in the country’s effort to integrate into the world economy”.

The minister said that Yemen is highly dependent on one resource, crude oil, where its exports account for more than 95% of Yemen’s total exports and contributed 60% to the national budget. Out of a population of 20 million, more than a quarter lives bellow the poverty line and a quarter of the workforce is unemployed. The minister said that the Government has taken a comprehensive program of reform of the economy in order to conform with WTO agreements while at the same time privatizing many state-run companies. It also has created a National Committee at the highest level of government to oversee and support the accession process.

Yemen already has had the first bilateral negotiation with Australia, and the chairman of the Working Party, former German representative to the WTO, Hartmut Röben, encouraged the authorities to intensify the bilateral market access negotiations. Yemen reported on the steady progress of privatization, the openness of the oil sector to foreign investment and their commitment to non-discrimination in the key areas of foreign trade.