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Saudi Arabia Accedes To WTO

by Lorys Charalambous, for, Cyprus

13 December 2005

Saudi Arabia on Sunday became the 149th member of the WTO.

Director-General Pascal Lamy, at the conclusion of Saudi Arabia's negotiations last month, said its membership “paves the way for a stronger multilateral trading system”.

Saudi Arabia has been negotiating its membership since July 1993.

As a result of the negotiations, Saudi Arabia has agreed to undertake a series of important changes to further liberalize its trade regime and accelerate its integration in the world economy, while offering a transparent and predictable environment for trade and foreign investment in accordance with WTO rules.

Among the commitments made by Saudi Arabia are the following:

  • The WTO Agreement will be applied uniformly throughout Saudi Arabia’s customs territory.
  • Saudi Arabia agreed to review a fee charged for the authentication of trade documents and to bring it into conformity with WTO rules within two years of accession.
  • Saudi Arabia will eliminate any non-tariff measures that cannot be justified under WTO rules while maintaining the right to restrict the importation and exportation of a certain number of goods and services in order to protect public morals, the life and health of the population, national security interests, etc. In addition, Saudi Arabia has agreed to review the list of banned imports at least once a year and to remove items the importation of which would not compromise the legitimate objectives of the Kingdom.
  • Saudi Arabia will not maintain any export subsidies on agricultural products.
  • Saudi Arabia will ensure that its producers and distributors of natural gas liquids (NGLs) will operate on the basis of normal commercial considerations, based on the full recovery of costs and a reasonable profit.
  • In areas such as the protection of intellectual property rights, the application of technical regulations and standards, as well as the protection of food safety and human, animal and plant life and health, Saudi Arabia will implement the relevant WTO Agreements in full from the date of accession (i.e. the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures).

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