9TH WTO MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE, BALI, 2013
Briefing note: WTO accessions — state of play
Yemen's accession package has been forwarded to the 9th Ministerial Conference for formal adoption by ministers on 3-6 December 2013. The Working Party on the Accession of Yemen adopted ad referendum the government’s accession package on 26 September 2013. Yemen will become a member 30 days after it notifies the ratification of the accession package to the WTO.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo issued his first Annual Report on WTO Accessions on 1 November 2013.
Updated: November 2013
THIS EXPLANATION is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
Completed accessions since 8th Ministerial Conference
Montenegro, Russia, Samoa and Vanuatu joined the WTO in 2012 and Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Tajikistan in 2013.
Since the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011, the WTO has made significant progress in the area of accessions. In total, 31 accessions have been completed since the WTO was established in 1995.
Several countries are entering or have already entered decisive stages of their accession negotiations, which should be advancing to “technical maturity” in 2014. These include Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, The Bahamas, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Serbia and Seychelles.
Progress and the conclusion of any accession depend on the input of the acceding government. There is always uncertainty due to many factors, including continued negotiations with WTO members, technical complexities, domestic challenges, and possible delays resulting from a country wishing to analyse the impact of a new or amended law.
Countries negotiating their WTO membership
The following 23 countries are currently negotiating their WTO membership.
Accession process in brief
GENERAL COUNCIL OR MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ADOPTS ACCESSION PACKAGE (+ protocol and decision)
RATIFICATION OF ACCESSION PACKAGE BY ACCEDING GOVERNMENT
Deposit original notification of acceptance with the WTO Secretariat
Accession process in detail
The accession process starts when the candidate government sends a request to the WTO Director-General to become a member.
The General Council then establishes a Working Party composed of WTO members, chaired by an ambassador to a WTO member. This forum for negotiations is open to any member country at any stage of the negotiation.
In examining the applicant's trade policies, the working party identifies the areas where existing laws need to be amended or new laws adopted, to conform to WTO rules. The candidate government must inscribe WTO rules into its national legal system.
In parallel, the applicant negotiates bilaterally with interested members to open its market further to imports of goods and/or services. The signed bilateral agreements are compiled and combined into two documents: the goods and services schedules. At the time of accession, all tariffs and commitments on goods and services are offered on the same terms to all WTO members under the principle of the Most-Favoured-Nation Treatment of the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) governing the WTO.
Once the applicant's trade laws meet WTO standards and all bilateral agreements are signed, the working party is ready to adopt the accession package containing five documents:
Once the working party adopts the accession package, it is forwarded to the General Council or the Ministerial Conference for final adoption. The applicant becomes a member 30 days after the WTO is notified of ratification by the acceding member.
More information available here.
Accession Working Party Management
* Least-developed countries (LDCs)