Remarks by Director-General Roberto Azevêdo

> Roberto Azevêdo’s speeches


Thank you Mr Chairman.

President Nazarbayev,

Mr Tokayev, Speaker of the Senate,

Minister Idrissov,

Minister Aitzhanova,



Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome. It is a great honour to be joined by President Nazarbayev and his delegation. I wish to congratulate you all on this important achievement.

Mr President, I particularly want to commend you on the leadership that you have shown — without which we would not be marking this success here today.

I think this is a truly historic occasion for Kazakhstan, and for the WTO.

In approving Kazakhstan's accession protocol we are concluding almost two decades of negotiations.

Moreover, we are delivering a result which will have a major economic impact, a major systemic impact, and a major human impact. Because, crucially, the benefits of accession can help to create jobs, raise incomes, and improve people's lives.

For Kazakhstan, this is recognition of the efforts you have made over recent years and your commitment to this process.

It is an endorsement of the extensive programme of reforms which you have undertaken. And it is a message to the world that Kazakhstan is open for business.

So once again I congratulate you on these efforts.

And of course this is also a very important moment for the WTO.

Kazakhstan's accession adds an important voice to our discussions here. It brings the organization closer to the heart of Central Asia. And it brings us closer to our goal of universal membership.

Over the 20 years since the WTO was created, 34 accessions have been completed. Each one is distinctive, but they all represent a commitment to core values of the WTO: openness, transparency, good governance, and the rule of law. 

The Accession Protocol approved by the General Council today shows Kazakhstan's clear commitment to those values and to the multilateral trading system.

So, this ceremony may mark the end of one journey, but it also marks the start of another.

Over the coming months and years I look forward to Kazakhstan's growing integration into the multilateral trading system, to the continuation of your programme of reforms, and to your active participation in all aspects of the work of this organization. 

I have no doubt that Kazakhstan will use the platform that the WTO provides to make its voice heard — and to help strengthen the multilateral trading system for the benefit of all.

I have interacted intensively with several members of the negotiating team over recent months, and so I also want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to their hard work and professionalism. 

I would like to pay particular tribute to Minister Aitzhanova, whose role as Chief Negotiator was key in guiding Kazakhstan through this accession process.

Let me also thank Ambassador Vesa Himanen, as chairman of the Working Party, and the other members of this organization, for their invaluable collaboration in this process.  I know that for some of them, many sensitive issues were involved and I thank them deeply for the flexibility they showed, especially when they responded favourably to my own personal efforts. Finally, I would like to thank everyone in the Secretariat who worked so hard to get all of this done.

In closing, I would like to just say one thing on a more personal note.

I actually had the privilege of meeting President Nazarbayev during my first week as Director-General, at the G20 meeting in Saint Petersburg, back in September 2013. I remember it very clearly.

Mr President, you told me then that when the Accession Package of Kazakhstan was concluded, you would personally come to Geneva to finish the job and sign the Protocol of Accession. And here you are!

It bodes well for Kazakhstan's participation in this organization, where trust, openness and good faith are so important.

So, once again, we are delighted to have you with us today.

And I am delighted to say to you and to the Republic of Kazakhstan, if my pronunciation is accurate enough: “kosh keldinizder” — welcome to the WTO!

Thank you.


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