THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
WTO members welcomed progress on its draft Working Party Report and on its bilateral market access negotiations. Afghanistan was urged to resolve outstanding technical issues, enact the few outstanding draft laws and conclude remaining bilateral negotiations to ensure that it remains on track to complete its accession process at the Ninth Ministerial Conference (MC9) in Bali.
WTO members expressed strong support for the 2013 conclusion of Afghanistan's accession. The Afghan delegation — led by H.E. Mr Mozammil Shinwari, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industries — re-affirmed the country's commitment to complete its accession by MC9.
Although members acknowledged that the draft Working Party Report was technically advanced, a range of questions are still to be resolved on areas such as state-owned enterprises, procurement, trade-related investment measures (TRIMs), trading rights, and transition periods in technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Afghanistan accepted the request by members to enact all WTO-related laws upon accession, consistent with WTO accession best practice, and to ensure that it meets the MC9 deadline.
Mr Shinwari informed Working Party members that market access negotiations had been concluded with Canada and Japan. Chairman van Schreven urged Afghanistan to complete the remaining negotiations with WTO members by mid-August and deposit signed bilaterals with the WTO Secretariat.
At the agriculture plurilateral negotiations, chaired by the WTO Secretariat on 25 July, members welcomed Afghanistan's commitment to bind export subsidies at zero and also welcomed the fact that its domestic support was concentrated in the “Green Box” (i.e. domestic support for agriculture that is allowed without limits because it does not distort trade, or at most causes minimal distortion).
Mr Shinwari reiterated Afghanistan's commitment to accede to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) upon accession.
Chairman van Schreven stated: “I believe that today we have had a substantive exchange with concrete progress that has taken this accession to a turning point. I see momentum. I hope we will continue to work in this positive spirit and sustain this momentum and the 2013 priority focus for the accession of Afghanistan.”
The date of the next meeting of the Working Party depends on the submission of required technical inputs on the outstanding negotiating issues.
- Application received on 21 November 2004
- Working Party established on 13 December 2004
- Working Party Chairperson: H.E. Mr Roderick van Schreven (the Netherlands)
- Working Party Secretary: Ms Lidet Assefa Kebede
- Director of the Accessions Division: Mr Chiedu Osakwe
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