26 October 2006

Working party completes Viet Nam’s membership talks

WTO members negotiating the terms of Viet Nam’s membership completed their task on 26 October 2006 by accepting the documents spelling out Viet Nam’s commitments and rights. The documents will now go to the full membership in the General Council, which will meet on 7 November, to decide on accepting Viet Nam.

The final breakthrough came in the week of 9 October, when some tough decisions had to be taken in informal consultations on remaining issues among a small group of members. The finishing touches to Viet Nam’s membership package were completed at an informal meeting of the working party on 25 October, which Norwegian Ambassador Eirik Glenne, who chairs the working party, described as a “dress rehearsal” for the 26 October final formal meeting.

“I have to pay homage to the delegation headed by H.E. Minister Tuyen and his team who have remained fully committed to pursuing the accession negotiations, often working around the clock, in particular these past few months,” Ambassador Glenne said on 26 October.

“Accession to the WTO is a long and arduous process, which requires difficult policy decisions. The government of Viet Nam has done admirable work in responding promptly and constructively to members’ requests and in putting into place WTO-consistent legislation. I would also like to thank members for their continued efforts, goodwill and spirit of compromise, which has enabled us to bring this accession process to completion.”

Several members described the negotiation of almost 12 years as a “long road”.

The EU said “It has been a road worth taking because it has seen a transformation of the Vietnamese economy and its trading system.” Canada described the results as “high quality”.

The US praised Viet Nam’s “courage” and “perseverance” and described Viet Nam’s desire to join the WTO as a vote of confidence in the WTO. “Their membership will be an important addition to the organization,” the US said. The time is also “exciting” because US-Vietnamese trade has “expanded by 400% over the last five years to reach almost $8 billion per year,” the US said.

China, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and other Asian, Latin American countries and European countries looked forward to the contribution Viet Nam would make to the WTO. Pakistan said Viet Nam is a model for developing countries struggling to meet the millennium goals — Viet Nam succeeded 10 years in advance, Pakistan observed.

Vietnamese trade minister Truong Dinh Tuyen described his country’s commitments as “extensive and far-reaching” and hoped they would continue the country’s economic momentum. He paid tribute to members’ goodwill and cooperation in the negotiations. His statement ended the meeting with a standing ovation. See full statement below

The package consists of:

  • Viet Nam’s draft commitments on goods — the 560 — page list (or “schedule”) of tariffs, quotas and ceilings on agricultural subsidies, and in some cases the timetable for phasing in the cuts

  • Viet Nam’s draft commitments on services — the 60 — page document (also a “schedule”) describing which services it is giving access to foreign service providers and any additional conditions, including limits on foreign ownership

  • The working party’s 260 — page draft report — describing Viet Nam’s legal and institutional set up for trade, along with commitments it has made in many of these areas.

A summary of the package will be released after the General Council approves Viet Nam’s membership.


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The 26 October “ad referendum” decision by the formal working party completes the negotiations. Next:

  • “ad referendum” allows members an opportunity to raise objections (although they have never done this in previous membership negotiations) in the next few days

  • Early November: General Council special meeting to agree the deal and accept Viet Nam as a member (expected 7 November)

  • Viet Nam then ratifies the deal (expected by 5 December)

  • Viet Nam informs the WTO that it has ratified

  • Viet Nam becomes a member 30 days after notifying that it has ratified (expected early January. If this happens, Viet Nam becomes the 150th WTO member).


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Working party members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, European Union and member states, Honduras, Hong Kong China, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Uruguay


Chairperson: Ambassador Eirik Glenne (Norway)

Viet Nam’s Working Party was established on 31 January 1995 and met 14 times. The previous formal meeting was on 9 October 2006.   



Trade Minister’s statement

Statement by H.E. Mr Truong Dinh Tuyen, Minister of Trade, Viet Nam
at the 14th and final Session of the Working Party on the Accession of Vietnam to the WTO

Geneva, 26 October 2006

On behalf of the Government and the People of Viet Nam, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Working Party for adopting all of Viet Nam’s accession documents that would enable the General Council to give the final nod on the 7 of November so that the door are now open for Viet Nam to join the WTO family. This marked the conclusion of Viet Nam’s WTO accession proceedings, which have spanned a period of 11-plus years since the date that Viet Nam first applied for membership in this global trade organization.

As a personal note, I can still recall a intense summer day back in 1998 when I myself anxiously observed the first meeting of this Working Party, but not in this meeting room but from the isolated translation booth. Eight years, 2 months and 26 days has elapsed and I today feel much more reassured to be present in this final meeting of the Working Party. Over that period, Viet Nam’s negotiation process has always gone hand in hand with the reforms of our economic institutions, the enhancement of our legal system to ensure the consistency between Viet Nam’s laws and the WTO’s rules.

After 14 formal and many informal meetings, the Working Party has done an incredible job of reviewing thousands of answers, thousands of pages of documentation and a myriad of Viet Nam’s laws and regulations. In addition, the Working Party Members have conducted hundreds of bilateral negotiations with Viet Nam. The outcomes of the whole process have been incorporated in the documents which have just been approved by the Working Party today. They embody Viet Nam’s extensive and far-reaching commitments in goods and services market access as well as in upholding the rules and standards of the global trading system. It is our earnest hope that these commitments will help Viet Nam to continue our economic development momentum and lay the solid groundwork for the cooperation with other Working Party Members in the years to come.

Having been able to go thus far, we would like to sincerely thank the goodwill, cooperation and support from you as well as from your colleagues in capital who unfortunately would not be able to be present here today. In the whole process of Viet Nam’s accession negotiations, many of you have indeed become real friends to Viet Nam.

Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to express our heart-felt thanks to the Chairman of the Working Party, Ambassador Erik Glenne, for the enthusiasm and excellent leadership in the decisive phase of the negotiations. We also noted with appreciation the tireless efforts by Ambassador Seung Ho, the former chairman of the Working Party in the early and difficult days of Viet Nam’s negotiation process.

Last but of course not least, we would like to thank the WTO Secretariat, especially Director General Pascal Lamy himself, who in his previous capacity has personally concluded a very important bilateral negotiation with us and today is yet again supportive to this Working Party in finishing all necessary work. I would also like to thank our friends, Arif, Cato, Emmanuelle and other members of WTO Secretariat — we would not have been able to go this far without the quiet assistance and great service from the Secretariat.

This is the last meeting of the Working Party on Viet Nam’s accession to the WTO. So please allow me to wish you all good health, happiness and great success in your life and work. We look forward to continuing the friendship and constructive working spirit that we have established when Viet Nam becomes a full WTO Member.