The Sub-Committee on Least Developed Countries, on 20 January, agreed to start work on developing recommendations to “further strengthen, streamline and operationalize” current guidelines on the accession process of LDCs, as called for in a decision by the Eighth WTO Ministerial Conference last month.



There are ten LDCs in the process of acceding to the WTO: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Laos, Liberia, Comoros, Sao Tome & Principe, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea and Yemen.

Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the LDC Group, said that the decision on LDC accession was a significant result of the Eighth Ministerial Conference, and urged members to adhere to the deadline of July 2012 to complete the work. It said that the LDC Group's proposal tabled last year, which included a number of specific suggestions, should be a reference point in the informal consultations that the Chair intends to launch next week.

Australia, China, the European Union, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Turkey and the United States said they would participate constructively in the upcoming consultations to ensure a productive outcome that would further facilitate the accession of LDCs to the WTO.

Yemen, an acceding LDC, said that it looked forward to improvements soon in the accession process.

The next formal meeting of the Sub-Committee is scheduled for April 2012.

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