WTO Accession Issues
Previous chapters have noted how the decision of many developing countries to integrate themselves more fully into the world trading system led several of them to join GATT in the 1980s and later the WTO. There is no way of making the rules of the international system benefit a country's interests unless the country is a member of and, as stressed in Chapter 8, effectively represented in the WTO.
Accession to the WTO is a far more complex, difficult and lengthy process than was the case with GATT. At the moment 28 countries are at various stages of their membership negotiations. Of these, 11 are transition economies that applied for accession after the collapse of central planning in the early 1990s. About half of the remainder are LDCs. Two large developing countries are in the late stage of the negotiation process: China and Saudi Arabia. Indeed there are very few countries that are neither WTO Members already nor applying to accede. These include Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Tadjikistan and Turkmenistan, many of whom have not applied because of political considerations.
This chapter analyzes the WTO accession process. The next section briefly summarizes the main benefits that countries can expect from WTO membership. The third section discusses the process and strategies for accession, as well as the main issues that have arisen in the case of developing countries and countries in transition. The fourth section reviews the progress made on accession by the various countries, as well as the causes of the delays that have been common in the accession of most countries. The final section presents the main conclusions from the analysis and a number of recommendations aimed at facilitating and