WTO Accepts Laos Membership in Multilateral Trading Body by 2013
The General Council of the World Trade Organization has approved on Friday, October 26, the membership of Laos, which will become full member of this multilateral trading body in early 2013.
The deal - the Protocol of Accession - was signed after the meeting by Laos' chief negotiator, Industry and Commerce Minister Nam Viyaketh, and WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy. Copies will be submitted to the National Assembly in Vientiane. All that remains is for Laos - officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) - to ratify the membership package, and 30 days later it will become a member, over 15 years after it first applied to join the WTO.
"Laos has come a long way since it embarked on the road to membership in 1997," WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said in a statement posted on the WTO website.
"This is never easy for any least developed country, and Laos' first steps were slow. But it is now seriously reforming its economy and its institutions, and has shown skill in its membership negotiations," Lamy said.
When it joins the WTO, Laos has agreed to open its market to open its market under the rules of the multilateral trading body.
For goods, Laos is committing "bound" tariffs (effectively maximum rates) that average 18.8% for all products - 19.3% on average for agricultural products, and 18.7% for the rest.
In services, Laos has made market access commitments, subject to agreed conditions and limitations, in 10 sectors, covering 79 sub-sectors. The 10 sectors are: business services, courier and telecoms services, construction, distribution, private education, environmental services, insurance, banking and other finances, private hospital services, tourism and air transport.
The membership of Laos would afford this ASEAN member country to join the international trading community on a proper legal footing. In WTO terminology, it enjoys a number of rights but also has some obligations.
Laos has the right to have access to other 157 WTO members' markets according to their commitments and WTO rules. This access is considerable in the case of more developed export markets.
It has also the right to be part of an international trading system based on agreed rules rather than everyone-for-themselves, which is transparent and predictable. …