In his opening statement, Yemeni Minister of Industry and Trade Dr Yahya Al-Mutawakel declared that the economy was facing many challenges: increased poverty due to the food crisis, a population growth rate of almost 3.4 per cent (one of the highest in the world) and modest average GDP growth of less than 4 per cent. He added that Yemen was mostly dependent on crude oil and had a limited export base. Yemen was confronted with the recent rise of inflation due to the food crisis.

In this context, WTO members supported Yemen's efforts to bring its legislation and enforcement mechanisms in conformity with WTO rules.

They also acknowledged Yemen's least-developed country (LDC) status and will take it into account in their negotiations to determine Yemen's concessions on market access and time-frames for implementing its commitments on rules. As an LDC, Yemen can also avail itself of technical assistance for reforming its trade regime and implementing its WTO obligations. In this regard, Yemen's Trade Minister stated that “Yemen seeks this Working Party's kind consideration to avail itself of all the flexibilities and special arrangements provided to LDCs, including transitional periods and technical assistance”. The EC announced that a €7 million technical assistance programme will be devoted to Yemen's accession.

Reforms to Yemen's trade regime

Yemen has passed new legislation on intellectual property and is currently reforming its customs law.

Members requested more information regarding the reforms undertaken on trading rights, investment regime, import restrictions, customs valuation, subsidies, technical barriers to trade, and the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights.

Market access goods/services: negotiations with China concluded

Yemen has concluded its bilateral negotiations with China. Negotiations are ongoing with Australia, Canada, the EC, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US.

In this regard, the EC stated that the goods negotiations were close to completion while some questions remained pending on services.

The Working Party chair Hartmut Röben (Germany) encouraged members and Yemen to intensify bilateral market access negotiations, using every available opportunity to advance the talks.

Next steps

The Working Party chair declared that he hopes to accelerate the process and would try to hold the next meeting in the first half of 2009. He urged members and Yemen to “try to be as busy as possible” to ensure progress.

In his concluding remarks, Yemen's Trade Minister stated that “we are looking forward to conclude a fair deal that will accommodate the interests of all parties concerned”.

Background information on Working Party process

  • Working Party chair: Hartmut Röben (Germany)

  • Yemen applied for WTO membership in April 2000

  • Working Party established in September 2000

  • Last meeting of the Working Party: November 2007

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