TODAY.AZ / Business

Prospects and challenges ahead of Azerbaijan's WTO admission

06 April 2006 [08:31] - TODAY.AZ
Prospects for Azerbaijan's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and economic development were in focus at the event, "The World Trade Network and Azerbaijan", in Baku on Wednesday.

Addressing the meeting, Emil Majidov, president of the Azerbaijan Export & Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO organizing the event, said local entrepreneurs were poorly aware of WTO and the discussions targeted briefing the participants on the economic processes ongoing around the world.

Deputy Economic Development Minister Mikayil Jabbarov said an action plan had been prepared for local businessmen on Azerbaijan's forthcoming accession to WTO. The country is currently going through a stage that is pivotal for its admission to the organization, he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister and chairman of the taskforce on WTO admission Mahmud Mammadguliyev reminded that Azerbaijan applied for its accession in 1997 and four meetings of the taskforce have been held thus far. He further made a presentation entitled "Azerbaijan's inception to WTO: the status of talks and backbone of the business community".

According to AssA-Irada, a roundtable, "WTO membership and the business community's interests", held later in the day concluded with the adoption of the mentioned Action Plan.

The deputy minister told reporters after the discussions that the government will do its utmost to ensure that Azerbaijan is admitted to WTO with a status of a developing country. This will allow it to receive suitable concessions, in particular, on the agricultural sector. The talks to that end have already begun and the needed arguments submitted to the WTO secretariat, Mammadguliyev said.

"During the all-sided discussions, Malaysia supported our admission with this status. But the United States and the European Union avoided comment. We will further work to make sure that the USA and EU back our stance by speaking in favor of it."

Mammadguliyev continued that one of the priority issues for WTO admission is improving laws, as this is at the core of the recommendations made to the country.

"We have submitted a list concerning legislative improvements. This work has to be done over two years at the most," he said, adding that although the issue is regularly raised during the talks, WTO is still concerned over the lack of such changes.

Touching upon the possible obstacles that may be posed by WTO member state Armenia, with which Azerbaijan faces the long-standing conflict over Nagorno Karabakh, Mammadguliyev said this will not happen. "Upon its admission, Armenia assumed a commitment not to veto Azerbaijan's inception," he said.

The deputy minister emphasized that any talks with Armenia on the matter are certainly out of the question, as the two countries maintain no ties.

Mammadguliyev told the press earlier that Armenia's admission to the WTO prior to that of Azerbaijan is due to the fact this country started relevant talks four years earlier, in 1993. He added that countries' accession to the organization in general mainly depends not on their economic indicators, but on how fast they fulfill their obligations.



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