ACCESSIONS

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Sessions with WTO experts cover the accession process and the WTO legal disciplines at stake in accession negotiations in areas such as import and export regulations (tariff and non-tariff barriers), customs procedures, trade remedies, subsidies, free zones, trade-related investment measures, state-trading enterprises, technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights. The training course is aimed at preparing government officials from acceding countries to negotiate their country's accession with WTO members, including their accession commitments.

The training programme provides for participants to hear from selected WTO members on their approaches in accession negotiations. A roundtable discussion with former accession negotiators will present an opportunity for experience- and knowledge-sharing.

“The negotiation on WTO rules is one of the two key pillars that constitute accession negotiations, along with market access negotiations,” Maika Oshikawa, Director of the WTO's Accessions Division, told participants at the opening of the course.

Inviting participants to learn from each other, Ms Oshikawa stressed that this activity is happening at a critical juncture, just 12 weeks away from the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) to be held on 26-29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi. At MC13, WTO members hope to invite Comoros and Timor-Leste to become the organization's 165th and 166th members, provided that their accession negotiations are completed.  

The training course is also organized at a moment when many acceding governments have become active and technically engaged, including Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Curaçao, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Ms Oshikawa also underscored the special attention and support given to accessions by WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has held many bilateral meetings with acceding governments.

The training on WTO rules in accession negotiations is being organised in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint technical cooperation agency of the WTO and the United Nations. In his opening remarks, the Director of ITC's Market Development Division, Mondher Mimouni, said: “ITC is a close partner of the WTO in building capacity of the acceding governments. Currently, ITC is supporting Iraq, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan through specific European Union (EU)-funded projects aiming to facilitate accession to the WTO.”

Participants in this training programme come from Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Curaçao, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Serbia, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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