Afghanistan set to join the WTO

Afghanistan is joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), becoming the 164th member of the group that accounts for nearly all of the world’s commerce. 

Kabul has until June to ratify the deal and formally become a member of the trade group after years of working to improve legal and administrative reforms in trade policy, customs, food safety, animal and plant health and intellectual property, according to an announcement at the WTO’s ministeral meeting on Thursday in Nairobi. 

{mosads}“I would like to assure you that Afghanistan is committed to playing by the rules of the multilateral trading system,” said Humayoon Rasaw, Afghanistan’s minister of commerce and industries, at WTO’s headquarters in Geneva ahead of 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,” Rasaw said.

WTO membership should not only open markets for Afghanistan but send a signal that the landlocked country has established a predictable and transparent framework for businesses to invest.

The Afghan economy is recovering from decades of conflict, and despite sweeping improvements since the ousting of the Taliban regime in 2001, the nation is still extremely poor and dependent on foreign aid, according to a CIA analysis. 

“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,” said U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley.  

“By joining the WTO, Afghanistan also becomes more attractive to investors and facilitates the growth of trade and economic ties with the region,” McKinley said. “Afghanistan’s people and businesses will benefit from greater job opportunities, administrative transparency, and confidence in the future.”

U.S. and British special forces are stepping up intervention in certain parts of the country to help the Afghan goverment stave off Taliban advances. 

A Pentagon report this week showed that the security situation has deteriorated in 2015 amid growing concern about the threat of ISIS.

Beside the United States, Afghanistan 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 and Turkey.

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

Tags Afghanistan Kabul World Trade Organization

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