Turkmenistan’s official application to join the WTO under Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement was formally received on 24 November 2021, and was set to be considered at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) the following week until the meeting was postponed due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The General Council agreed to establish a Working Party which will oversee negotiations between members and Turkmenistan on the terms of its accession.
Ambassador Dacio Castillo of Honduras, chair of the General Council, congratulated the government of Turkmenistan on the successful establishment of the Working Party and the “start of its accession journey.”
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said the decision to establish a working party “marks a significant step in Turkmenistan's relationship with the multilateral trading system.” She noted that the country became an observer to the GATT in July 1992, soon after its independence, and obtained WTO observer status in July 2020.
“Turkmenistan's request to start accession negotiations is the result of years of intensive domestic work, complemented by assistance from partners and the WTO Secretariat to understand the benefits of the accession process and eventually WTO membership,” she said. “By creating a working party for Turkmenistan's accession, the General Council has now completed the WTO accession map in Central Asia, one of our most active regions for expanding membership.”
Ambassador Atageldi Haljanov, Permanent Representative of Turkmenistan to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, thanked WTO members for supporting and accepting his country’s application for WTO accession.
“Turkmenistan’s decision to become an acceding country at the WTO demonstrates the country’s objective to adhere to the rules of the multilateral trading system and shows the strong commitment of the government of Turkmenistan to become a full-fledged member of the WTO and jointly work with its member states,” he said.
A number of WTO members took the floor to voice their support for Turkmenistan's application and the establishment of the Working Party. Turkmenistan was invited to consult with the WTO Secretariat regarding further procedures and basic documentation to be considered by the Working Party.
In addition to Turkmenistan, 23 countries and territories are in the process of negotiating their WTO membership. More information on the WTO accession process is available here.