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WTO Members Back Afghan Accession Bid

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

21 June 2012

At the recent second meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Afghanistan members supported an early accession of the nation to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Participants at the meeting, held on June 18, 2012, undertook a thorough examination of Afghanistan's current trade regime, and reviewed the latest reforms implemented by Afghanistan to advance its accession process by bringing its frameworks into line with WTO rules.

The Working Party called for further information on Afghanistan's trade-related legislation regarding state trading enterprises, privatization, pricing policies, import licensing, customs valuation, export regulations, export subsidies, agricultural policy, intellectual property, technical barriers to trade and transparency. They also urged Afghanistan to submit its first offer on market access for goods in order to start the negotiations on trade opening. Afghanistan submitted its offer on services earlier this month.

On behalf of Afghanistan, the nation's Deputy-Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mozammil Shinwari, said that WTO accession is a national priority and an integral part of the nation's efforts to become a trade and transit hub. He voiced his belief that open trade policy and the creation of a sound business environment are essential for attaining sustainable economic growth, alleviating poverty and achieving stability. He added that Afghanistan is seeking WTO accession as a Least Developed Country, and asked WTO members to take Afghanistan’s development needs into special consideration, in particular those related to its nascent industries.

The Chairperson of the Working Party, Ambassador Roderick van Schreven (Netherlands), mentioned that Afghanistan had considerable work ahead as adherence to WTO rules required domestic reforms as well as the establishment of necessary enforcement infrastructure. He urged members to continue providing technical assistance to Afghanistan and to step up this support.

Ambassador van Schreven requested the WTO Secretariat to prepare an “Elements of the Draft Working Party Report” containing information on the reforms undertaken by Afghanistan to bring its trade regime in line with WTO rules. This evolving document will serve as a basis for the accession talks.

Afghanistan's accession bid has been ongoing since 2004, with a first meeting of the Working Party undertaken in 2011.

TAGS: tax | business | export duty | law | intellectual property | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | enforcement | licensing | legislation | Afghanistan | import duty | regulation | trade | services

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