WTO news: what’s been happening in the WTO

8 December 2000

WTO's General Council approves accession of Lithuania

The WTO's General Council today (8 December) approved the accession of Lithuania to the World Trade Organization at a session attended by the Lithuanian president, Valdas Adamkus, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antanas Valionis. Following the General Council's approval, Lithuania's Minister of Foreign Affairs signed the original copy of the terms of accession subject to ratification.

At the signing ceremony Mr. Moore said : “Lithuania's forthcoming accession is good news for the country and good news for the WTO. Lithuania now has a stable and predictable framework for economic engagement with other nations which will boost trade, growth and prosperity. For the WTO it means another big step in our goal of becoming a truly world organization”.

Mr Moore highlighted that Lithuania completes the list of the three Baltic States to become members of the WTO. Latvia and Estonia became members in 1999. Another two former Soviet Union republics, Georgia and the Kyrgyz Republic, are also members of the WTO. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakstan, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the Russian Federation are in the process of negotiation for accession.

Mr. Moore welcomed the conclusion of Lithuania's negotiations, which started in February 1994, and looked forward to the country becoming a full Member of the Organization after the ratification of the terms of accession by its Parliament. He praised Lithuania's rapid move from a centrally planned system to a market economy after independence on 11 March 1990.

Lithuania's main trading partner is Germany which accounts for 16 percent of its exports and 18 percent of its imports, followed by the Russian Federation which accounts for 19.4 percent and 7 percent, respectively. In 1999 Lithuania's exports totalled 3.004 billion US dollars and its imports 4.835 billion US dollars.

Overall, 28 governments are currently negotiating to join the WTO: Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cape Verde, People's Republic of China, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kazakstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Moldova, Nepal, Russian Federation, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sudan, Chinese Taipei, Tonga, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam and Yemen.

WTO membership stands now at 140 after the accession of Croatia on 30 November 2000.