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Afghanistan becomes member of World Trade Organization (WTO)

Afghanistan becomes member of World Trade Organization (WTO)

Dec 17, 2015 - 21:31

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Afghanistaninfo-icon has acceded to the Worldinfo-icon Trade Organization (WTO), the chair of the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10) said on Thursday.

"It gives me a great pleasure to welcome the decision we have just taken on the accession of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan to the WTO," Amina Mohamed said, adding that Afghanistan’s membership in the organization was another sign of the world’s confidence in the WTO.

The accession ceremony took place in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where economy ministers from over 160 states have gathered for the four-day MC10, aimed at defining the course of multilateral trade relations for the coming years.

Earlier in the day, Afghan Deputy Minister of Trade of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries Mozammil Shinwari told a foreign news agency that the country's WTO membership will give it "an upper hand" when seeking preferential trade terms with its neighboring states.

A statement from the United States Agency for International Development (USAIDinfo-icon) confirmed WTO formally adopted Afghanistan’s terms of accession at its 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi on Thursday. 

Afghanistan will have until June 2016 to ratify the deal and formally become WTO’s 164th member, joining a global trading organization that accounts for about 95 percent of the world’s commerce, the statement said.

In preparation, Afghanistan engaged in ambitious legal and administrative reforms in areas such as trade policy, customs, food safety, animal and plant healthinfo-icon, intellectual property, and standardization. 

These reforms will benefit Afghan consumers and businesses as well as foreign firms seeking to do business with Afghanistan.   Afghanistan also concluded bilateral market access negotiations on goods and services with nine WTO Members (Canada, Chinese Taipei, the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States).

 “I would like to assure you that Afghanistan is committed to playing by the rules of the multilateral trading system,” said Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industries Humayoon Rasaw at WTO’s headquarters in Geneva prior to the Nairobi meeting. 

“We view adherence to WTO agreements as critical for strengthening the rule of law, increasing transparency, and building the foundation for sound economic development in Afghanistan.”

WTO membership will open lucrative markets for Afghanistan and provide a number of rights for the landlocked country, including the critical right to transit. 

WTO membership will send a signal that Afghanistan has established a predictable, transparent, and cost-efficient business environmentinfo-icon that upholds the rule of law and protects investor rights.

 “As we acknowledge the importance of this development, we want to congratulate Afghanistan in becoming a member of the WTO,” said US Ambassador P. Michael McKinley. 

“The government of Afghanistan has not only met most of the requirements for membership but has undertaken reforms that will benefit Afghan consumers and businesses.”

McKinley said Afghanistan also became more attractive to investors by joining the WTO to facilitate the growth of trade and economic ties with the region. 

He said Afghanistan’s people and businesses would benefit from greater job opportunities, administrative transparency, and confidence in the future.

USAID has worked closely with the Afghan government and private sector since 2009 and will continue supporting Afghanistan in fulfilling its WTO commitments following membership through the Afghanistan Trade and Revenue (ATAR) project.



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