- WTO accession and membership
All the WTO members have joined the organization as a result of negotiation and therefore membership means a balance of rights and obligations. [http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org3_e.htm#join Membership, Alliances and Bureaucracy] , World Trade Organization] The process of becoming a WTO member is unique to each applicant country, and the terms of accession are dependent upon the country's stage of economic development and current trade regime. [http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidtrade/issues/accessions.html Accessions Summary] , Center for International Development] The process takes about five years, on average, but it can take some countries almost a decade if the country is less than fully committed to the process or if political issues interfere. The shortest accession negotiation was that of
Kyrgyzstan, lasting 2 years and 10 months. The longest was that of China, lasting 15 years and 5 months. [P. Farah, "Five Years of China’s WTO Membership", 263-304] Russia, having first applied to join GATT in 1993, is still in negotiations for membership. Recently, it has made much bigger strides by securing a bilateral trade agreement with the EU (2004) and US (2006). [ [http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/a1_russie_e.htm Accessions: Russian Federation] , World Trade Organization
* [http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Fact_Sheets/2006/Factsheet_on_US_Russia_WTO_Bilateral_Market_Access_Agreement.html Factsheet on U.S. – Russia WTO Bilateral Market Access Agreement] , Office of the United Stated Trade Representative
* [http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/russia/intro/ip04_673.htm Russia - WTO: EU-Russia Deal Brings Russia a Step Closer to WTO Membership] , European Commission]
Moldovaand Georgia are the remaining two nations that Russia must make agreements with to enter the WTO. [A. Aslund, [http://www.iie.com/publications/papers/paper.cfm?ResearchID=686 Russia's WTO Accession]
* V. Novostei, [http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/85518-4/ USA OKs Russia’s Entry into WTO] , Pravda.Ru] As is typical of WTO procedures, an offer of accession is only given once consensus is reached among interested parties.C. Michalopoulos, "WTO Accession", 64]
The process of accession can be broken down into four major stages: a country wishing to accede to the WTO submits an application to the General Council. The government applying for membership has to describe all aspects of its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements. The application is submitted to the WTO in a memorandum which is examined by a working party open to all interested WTO Members, and dealing with the country's application. For large countries such as Russia, numerous countries participate in this process. For smaller countries "the Quad countries" – consisting of the EU, the United States,
Canada, and Japan– and an applicant's neighboring countries are typically most involved.C. Michalopoulos, "WTO Accession", 62] The applicant then presents a detailed memorandum to the Working Party on its foreign trade regime, describing, among other things its economy, economic policies, domestic and international trade regulations, and intellectual property policies. The Working Party Members submit written questions to the Applicant to clarify aspects of its foreign trade regime with particular attention being paid to the degree of privatization in the economy and the extent to which government regulation is transparent.C. Michalopoulos, "WTO Accession", 63] After all necessary background information has been acquired, the Working Party will begin meeting to focus on issues of discrepancy between the WTO rules and the Applicant's international and domestic trade policies and laws. The WP determines the terms and conditions of entry into the WTO for the applicant nation, and may consider transitional periods to allow countries some leeway in complying with the WTO rules.
The final phase of accession involves bilateral negotiations between the applicant nation and other Working Party members regarding the concessions and commitments on tariff levels and market access for goods and services. These talks cover tariff rates and specific market access commitments, and other policies in goods and services. The new member's commitments are to apply equally to all WTO members under normal non-discrimination rules, even though they are negotiated bilaterally. In other words, the talks determine the benefits (in the form of export opportunities and guarantees) other WTO members can expect when the new member joins. The talks can be highly complicated; it has been said that in some cases the negotiations are almost as large as an entire round of multilateral trade negotiations.
When the bilateral talks conclude, the working party finalizes the terms of accession. sends an accession package, which includes a summary of all the WP meetings, the Protocol of Accession (a draft membership treaty), and lists ("schedules") of the member-to-be’s commitments to the General Council or Ministerial Conference. Once the General Council or Ministerial Conference approves of the terms of accession, the applicant's parliament must ratify the Protocol of Accession before it can become a member. [ [http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/acces_e.htm How to Become a Member of the WTO] , World Trade Organization] The documents used in the accession process which were embargoed during the accession process are released once the nation becomes a member.
Members and observers
The WTO has 153 members (almost all of the 123 nations participating in the Uruguay Round signed on at its foundation, and the rest had to get membership). The 27 states of the
European Unionare represented also as the European Communities. Some non-sovereign autonomous entities of member states are included as separate members, since WTO members do not have to be full sovereign nation-members. Instead, they must be a customs territory with full autonomy in the conduct of their external commercial relations. Thus Hong Kongbecame a GATT contracting party by the now terminated "sponsorship" procedure of the United Kingdom(Hong Kong uses the name "Hong Kong, China" since 1997). A new member of this type is the Republic of China( Taiwan), which acceded to the WTO in 2002, and carefully crafted its application by joining under the name "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu ( Chinese Taipei)"J.H. Jackson, "Sovereignty", 109] . Tongawas admitted on 15 December, 2005during the ministerial conference. On January 11, 2007, Vietnambecame the 150th WTO member state. [For an updated list of WTO members, see [http://www.wto.int/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm here Members and Observers] , World Trade Organization] Tonga finalized ratification of the admittance in July 2007, and thus became the 151st member state. Ukrainebecame the 152nd member state on 16 May 2008. Cape Verdejoined on 23 July 2008as the 153rd member state.
A number of non-members have been observers (28) at the WTO and are currently negotiating their membership:
Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahamas(process frozen in 2001), Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea(expected to start membership negotiations until 4 April 2007), Ethiopia, Holy See(Vatican; special exception from the rules allows it to remain observer without starting negotiations), Iran, [Iran first applied to join the WTO in 1996, but the United States, accusing Tehran of supporting international terrorism, vetoed its application 22 times. The U.S. said in March it would drop its vetoon a start to Iran's accession negotiations. The U.S. has chosen not to veto Iran's latest application for membership as part of a nuclear related compromise.] Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Montenegro, Russia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles(negotiations frozen since 1998), Sudan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu(accession agreed in 2001, but not ratified by Vanuatu itself), and Yemen. With the exception of the Holy See, observers must start accession negotiations within five years of becoming observers. Some international intergovernmental organizations are also granted observer status to WTO bodies. [ [http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/igo_obs_e.htm International Intergovernmental Organizations Granted Observer Status to WTO Bodies] , World Trade Organization] Syriafirst applied to join the WTO in October 2001, then again in January 2004 and September 2005. Its application for membership is currently still pending, waiting for WTO General Council approval to start negotiations.
The following states (14) and territories (2) so far have no official interaction with the WTO: the states of
Eritrea, Somalia, Liberia, Turkmenistan, North Korea, Monaco, San Marino, East Timor, Nauru, Tuvalu, Palau, Kiribati, Micronesia, Marshall Islandsand the territories of Western Sahara, Palestine.
List of members and accession dates
The following table lists all current members and their accession date. [ [http://www.wto.org/English/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm Members and Observers] ]
*cite web |title = Accessions Summary |publisher = Center for International Development at
Harvard University|url = http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidtrade/issues/accessions.html|accessdate = 2007-03-16|work=Global trade Negotiations
*cite web |last=Aslund|first=Anders|title = Russia's WTO Accession|publisher = Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Politics|url = http://www.iie.com/publications/papers/paper.cfm?ResearchID=686|date=2007-12-21|accessdate = 2007-03-16|work=Speeches, Testimony, Papers
*cite news |url=http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Fact_Sheets/2006/Factsheet_on_US_Russia_WTO_Bilateral_Market_Access_Agreement.html|title=Factsheet on U.S. – Russia WTO Bilateral Market Access Agreement|accessdate=2007-03-16 |date=2007-11-10|publisher=Office of the United States Trade Representative
*cite journal |last=Farah |first=Paolo|month=August|year=2006|title= Five Years of China WTO Membership. EU and US Perspectives about China's Compliance with Transparency Commitments and the Transitional Review Mechanism |journal=Legal Issues of Economic Integration| volume=33|issue=3| url=http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=916768 |accessdate=2007-03-16
*cite web |title = How to Become a Member of the WTO|publisher = World Trade Organization |work=Accession: Explanation| url = http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/acces_e.htm|accessdate = 2007-03-16
*cite web |title = International Intergovernmental Organizations Granted Observer Status to WTO bodies|publisher = World Trade Organization |url = http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/igo_obs_e.htm|accessdate = 2007-03-16
*cite book |last= Jackson|first=John H. |authorlink= |title=Sovereignty, the WTO and Changing Fundamentals of International Law|year=2006|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=0-521-86007-5| chapter=The World Trade Organization: Structure of the Treaty and the Institution
*cite web |url=http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org6_e.htm |title=Members and Observers |accessdate=2007-03-16 |work=Understanding the WTO|publisher=World Trade Organization
*cite web |url=http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/whatis_e/tif_e/org3_e.htm#join |title=Membership, Alliances and Bureaucracy |accessdate=2007-03-16 |work=Understanding the WTO|publisher=World Trade Organization
*cite book |last= Michalopoulos|first=Constantine |editor=Bernard M. Hoekman, Aaditya Mattoo, Philip English| title=Development, Trade, and the WTO: A Handbook|year=2002|publisher=World Bank Publications|isbn=0-821-34997-X| chapter=WTO Accession|chapterurl=http://publications.worldbank.org/catalog/content-download?revision_id=1526166
*cite web |title = Mapping the Law of WTO Accession (by Steve Charnovitz) |publisher = SRRN |url = http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=957651&high=%20charnovitz|accessdate = 2007-04-01
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