The stages of joining the World Trade Organization and the advantages that membership in this global economic block gives to entrepreneurship were highlighted during a round table for women entrepreneurs organized by the EU Delegation in Turkmenistan on Friday, 2 September 2022.
The event was attended by representatives of the ministry of trade, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan and the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan involved in the process of Turkmenistan’s accession to the WTO.
In July 2020, Turkmenistan received observer status in the WTO, and in February this year, during a regular meeting of the WTO General Council, a decision was made to grant Turkmenistan the status of an active observer or an acceding country.
Thus, Turkmenistan has passed the first stage of the accession process. And then, there are still several stages and tracks of the negotiation process, Daria Karman, program officer of the International Trade Center, said during her presentation at the review seminar.
The second stage is the most difficult and lengthy. In particular, this phase, which involve interested WTO member states, assess in full and comprehensively the trade policy and legislative system of the country claiming for membership.
In addition, the negotiations explore such aspects as tariff policy, coordination of state subsidies for private producers, market transparency, conditions for foreign companies’ access to the market, the level of state support in the agricultural sector.
It should be noted that these issues are very sensitive for any country intending to become a WTO member. Including for Turkmenistan, since the country’ economic strategy focuses on effective and sustainable support of entrepreneurship involved in key industries such as food security, agriculture, import substitution.
As the ITC expert noted, besides the relevant agreements, reached with WTO members at the negotiation stage, the country can change the forms and tools of assistance to its private producers without restrictions.
And at the final stage, when the package of arrangements is ready, the agreements are ratified at the national level
At the same time, the length of the accession procedure may vary, and not just due to the rate of economic development. For example, in Kazakhstan and Russia the process has exceeded 19 years, while Kyrgyzstan has become a full member of the WTO in record time – in a little over two years.
What determines the speed of accession to the WTO? There are several factors. First, the country must be politically ready for membership and respond to membership requests. Compliance of domestic legislation with WTO standards also plays a significant role, so that the country can implement the requirements of the organization, based on the national regulatory framework. Secondly, a lot depends on the work of the negotiating team, on the level of coordination of the ministries and departments involved in the negotiations.
What benefits can a country expect from future WTO membership?
Firstly, by joining the WTO, the participants of the state’s foreign trade activities increase the security and predictability of access to the markets of other members of the organization.
Secondly, the quality of the business environment is improving, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the market for FDI and labor productivity is growing, since the investor is aware that the country adheres to generally recognized WTO rules and regulations.
Third, the private sector receives protection from “trade distorting” actions by other countries.
Fourth, opportunities to protect national interests are expanding through active engagement in international trade negotiations.
The experience of Kazakhstan is illustrative. In the five years since joining the WTO in this country, almost 50% of all investments have been attracted to the non-resource sector, in particular to the service sector (30%) and the industrial sector (18%). Exports of goods grew by 26% in 2019 compared to 2015. ///nCa, 3 September 2022