> Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches


Your Excellency Mohammad Khan Rahmani, First Deputy Chief Executive of Afghanistan’s National Unity Government,
Ladies and gentlemen,


Congratulations to ministers on the decision you have just taken to approve the membership of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

And, moreover, congratulations to the Government of Afghanistan on this historic achievement.

We are honoured to be joined today by Mr Mohammad Khan Rahmani, along with his delegation.

For Afghanistan, this is the culmination of an almost 11-year long process of negotiations. It is a recognition of your efforts and your commitment to this process.

It is an endorsement of the extensive programme of domestic reforms you have undertaken to accelerate economic growth.

And it is a clear sign for all the world to see that Afghanistan is building a business-friendly environment.

Countries undertaking the reforms required to join the WTO tend to grow at around 2.5 percentage points faster than others once the process is completed.

So I am positive that this will have a big impact for Afghanistan.

After all, you have taken on these commitments for a clear purpose — to improve people’s lives through trade.

We will be your partners in that effort.

Despite very challenging circumstances, and under the shadow of conflict, you have shown the determination needed to complete this complex process. 

I want to commend the leadership of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in helping to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion.

And I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to:

  • National Economic Adviser Omar Zakhilwal
  • Minister Humayoon Rasa
  • Deputy Minister Shinwari, who served as Chief Negotiator
  • and the whole negotiating team.

I also want to thank:

  • WTO members
  • the WTO Secretariat — with special mention to Chiedu Osakwe and his team
  • and, of course, Ambassador Roderick van Schreven, Chairman of the Working Party.

Thank you Roderick, you were a true asset to this process. Your personal commitment and ’savoir- faire’ were fundamental in leading us to this outcome.

The successful end of these negotiations marks the 36th accession negotiation we have concluded. This puts Afghanistan on track to become the WTO’s 36th least-developed country member.

That number seems to be rising fast! The LDCs are more than a fifth of the whole WTO membership. It is an important and active constituency.

We saw this yesterday with the approval of the Accession Protocol of Liberia.

And just this morning I am pleased to say that we received the membership application of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

This is something I strongly welcome and I will work with members to advance this effort as quickly as possible.

With every accession, we add another voice to the multilateral trading system. We add to its diversity, we add to its vibrancy.

So today is an important milestone. But it is not the end of the journey. Just as important as the process leading to the accession itself is the implementation of the related commitments and reforms.

This requires the right resources and know-how — and we will continue to support Afghanistan on this front.

That’s what the “WTO Post-Accession Implementation Support Strategy” is all about.

It will be key to the successful continuation of Afghanistan’s domestic reforms and its integration into the global economy.

I am confident that WTO membership will contribute to establishing a firm foundation for Afghanistan’s future development and prosperity. 

So I look forward to your active participation in the work of the WTO.

I am delighted to say to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its people: welcome to the WTO.

RSS news feeds

> Problems viewing this page?
Please contact [email protected] giving details of the operating system and web browser you are using.