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ESCAP Regional Workshop on Key Features of the WTO

Sunday 15 March 2015

(ESCAP press service) – ESCAP in collaboration with its Subregional Office for North and Central Asia organised a “Regional Workshop on Key Features of the WTO” on 12 March 2015 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the Central Asian member States of ESCAP. The objective of this WTO workshop was to help trade policymakers deepen their understanding of WTO rules, including the implications of relevant negotiating issues for policymakers who are directly or indirectly involved in the WTO Doha round negotiations as well as accession negotiations. This will also assist participants identify and pursue issues which are consistent with their development objectives and national priorities.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region. Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 bln people, or two thirds of the world’s population. This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.

The status of WTO accession of Central Asian countries is:

  • Kazakhstan applied for membership in the WTO in April 1996 and circulated its Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime in September 1996. However, in June 2009, it announced that it would join the Customs Union with Russia and Belarus. As a consequence, large portions of Kazakhstan’s trade regime have been re-established under Customs Union legal instruments, most of its customs practices amended, and its tariffs adjusted to match those of the Customs Union, which are those of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, during 2012, Kazakhstan made definitive progress towards completion of its WTO accession process. Market access negotiations were essentially completed for both goods and services, allowing for the development of consolidated schedules and their circulation for verification.
  • Kyrgyzstan joined the WTO in 1998.
  • Tajikistan joined WTO in 2013.
  • Turkmenistan has announced its intention to apply for WTO Membership in early 2013. The next step would be the creation of a Working Party to begin the process of negotiating for accession to the WTO.
  • Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the region, is resuming work on its WTO accession process in 2013. The process, begun in 1994, has been essentially dormant since 2005.

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