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WTO Mulling Iraq Entry

by Lorys Charalambous, for, Cyprus

31 May 2007

It emerged last week that for the first time since Iraq lodged an application in 2004, a World Trade Organisation Working Party has met to discuss and examine Iraq's trade legislation and its conformity to WTO principles.

Iraq's Trade Minister, Dr. Al-Sudani observed that:

“Iraq's joining the WTO is an important step towards its integration into the global trading system and restores its position within the international community after decades of isolation”.

He stressed that WTO accession was essential to integrate the country into the global economy, and was a priority for his Government.

Members of the working party expressed strong support for Iraq's accession, and welcomed the commencement of multilateral work in Geneva.

Members acknowledged the progress made by Iraq in passing or drafting new legislation to comply with WTO rules. Areas for further work were identified at the meeting.

Iraq called for technical assistance to help the country accede to the WTO, and members stated their willingness to help Iraq advance the accession process in every possible way.

According to the WTO, representatives from the Iraqi government have met bilaterally with their counterparts from Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Egypt, the EU, Jordan Morocco, Norway, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and Vietnam. Iraq was invited to submit initial offers to advance market access negotiations on goods and services.

The Iraq government will now prepare documents on agriculture, services, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary issues and intellectual property. It will also prepare a general legislative action plan, providing members with a state of play of current and future legislation.

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