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WTO Seeks To Support LDCs To Join The WTO

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

14 December 2017

The World Trade Organization has launched a new Accession Negotiators Network, which is intended to help country negotiators collaborate on their respective accession work, noting that 21 countries – many of which are least developing countries (LDCs) – are aiming to satisfy the conditions to join the global trade organization.

Acceding to the World Trade Organization is a long, laborious process, typically taking less developed countries around ten years to meet all the requirements. As well as numerous requirements in the area of non-tarriff barriers and other trade rules, countries must agree to apply tariff policies consistently among all WTO members and cap their tariff rates on inbound goods, with specific rules applying to agriculture goods exports, among numerous other things. Countries must also discuss with other WTO members specific requests that provisions be included in their accession agreements providing for lower tariff rates in specific areas.

The announcement of the Network came at the Sixth China Round Table, held on December 9, which focused on efforts to support LDCs to achieve WTO accession.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said: "There's no question that accessions are an essential part of our activities. Since the creation of the WTO, we have welcomed 36 new members, massively extending the reach of the shared rules and principles in global trade. Today, WTO members account for over 98 percent of global trade. This is fundamental to the organization's role as a guarantor of stability and predictability in international economic relations."

The WTO disclosed that 21 accessions are in the pipeline in the WTO, with a number of them advancing into the final stages. Last year, two LDCs – Somalia and Timor Leste – submitted applications for WTO membership and a third LDC - South Sudan - has just submitted a new application for consideration by the Ministerial Conference, it said.

According to the WTO, the Network is intended to create a platform for ongoing interaction among accession negotiators which will help countries on their journey to WTO membership and beyond. Over 80 former negotiators and accession experts have agreed to join the Network.

TAGS: tax | export duty | law | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | Somalia | Sudan | agreements | tax rates | import duty | trade

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