The Working Party Chair, Ambassador Boudewijn J. Van Eenennaam (Netherlands) said that trade co-operation and integration can play a strong role for Afghanistan in the promotion of welfare with considerable potential for enhancing peace and security. He stated that Afghanistan faced particular challenges as a landlocked least-developed country (LDC) rebuilding itself after decades of conflict and added that it was essential to take full account of these factors in the negotiations.
Afghanistan's Commerce and Industry Minister, Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady, recognised the importance and benefits of WTO membership and acknowledged the challenges ahead of Afghanistan in terms of reforming its economy. He added that Afghanistan was prepared to work intensively to achieve a viable accession package taking into account his country's development needs and particularly the development of infant industry. He said that three decades of conflict had left extensive damage to Afghanistan's physical, institutional, human and social infrastructure. Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady added that WTO membership was an essential element of Afghanistan's effort to strengthen its trade and investment framework and establish an environment for greater economic opportunities that would alleviate poverty.
Members supported Afghanistan's integration in the multilateral trading system. They stated that WTO membership would be beneficial to Afghanistan as a critical driver for economic growth and domestic reforms. Members recognised Afghanistan's LDC status and said that this would be factored into the accession negotiations (see 2002 LDC Guidelines).
Members requested further information on issues such as the investment regime, registration requirements, border fees and charges, import licensing, internal taxes, transit trade, export subsidies, quantitative restrictions, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, and intellectual property issues.
Based on responses submitted by Afghanistan, the Secretariat has been mandated to prepare a Factual Summary which will consolidate and facilitate further work in the Working Party.