11 November 2005

Welcoming Statement by the Chairman

At the outset, allow me to say that it is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome, on behalf of all WTO Members and observer delegations, H.E. Dr. Hashim A. Yamani, Minister of Industry and Commerce of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome his colleague, H.E. Mr Abdullah Zainal, Minister of State, as well as His Royal Highness, Prince Abdul-aziz bin Salman bin Abdul-aziz, Deputy Minister of Petroleum. It is also an honour for me to welcome to this Council meeting Dr Fawaz Alamy, Chief negotiator for Saudi Arabia as well as the other members of the delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I would like to start by recalling that in July 1993, the GATT Council established a Working Party to examine the request by Saudi Arabia for accession, which was subsequently converted into a WTO Working Party. The Report of the Working Party is now before the General Council for consideration and adoption in the documents to which I have referred.

It gives me very great pleasure to welcome the Decision we have just taken on the Accession of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the World Trade Organization. Accession to the WTO is a long and complicated negotiation, but I think all would agree that the final package of terms and conditions of entry reflect the constructive spirit with which the Members and the Kingdom have participated in the process.

I believe that Saudi Arabia's entry into the WTO will once again clearly signal our willingness to move towards greater universality in our membership and to increase the depth and diversity of this organization. I would like to take this opportunity also to extend my congratulations to H.E. Mr. Yamani, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Saudi Arabia, and to his delegation and Government, on the successful completion of the WTO process. I should add that immediately following our Council meeting today, a brief ceremony for signature of the Protocol of Accession will take place. I should also share the information that as I understand, with Minister Yamani's signature, Saudi Arabia will become the 149th Member of the WTO thirty days later which will be just prior to the start of the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.