Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ethiopia doubles down negotiations for WTO accession


By our staff reporter

Ethiopia strongly sets its sight to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). A new national committee gets established by the Prime Minister to spur negotiations.  

The committee which is headed by Gebremeskel Chala, the Minister of Trade and Regional Integration, in consensus noted that the nation has been engaged in negotiations with WTO member nations for four rounds now.

As highlighted, the procedure was put on hold for around three years stemming from several issues, with COVID-19 being the primary concern.

The committee disclosed that questions concerning the negotiation process have been submitted by the US, UK, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and other nations.

 “In the four round negotiation processes, about 900 questions have been tabled and we have given our response during the four negotiations,” the Committee expounded through its head.

According to Gebremeskel, after the fourth negotiation, members voiced over 181 issues, most of which centered on creating a competitive and favorable environment for imported goods alongside locally produced goods.

“The government’s stance on the customs levy is relevant here, they want to see predictable policy regarding our customs duty,” Gebremeskel stated.

“We have now completed the study in preparation for the forthcoming fifth negotiation on those matters,” revealed Gebremeskel, who is also a chief negotiator in the process.

According to the Minister, the national committee is preparing the offer for product imports and is now examining the research.

As he described, a decision was made at the most recent meeting in Geneva in July to wrap up the accession process in three years, and “the government is also working to conclude in the timeframe.”

“The government will work aggressively to join the WTO within three years, and all stakeholders, including the private sector, should be aware of this,” he stated.

One of the economic changes implemented by the present administration, which came to power around five years ago, was to reintroduce the longstanding negotiations and admit the nation as a member of the largest platform.

Ethiopia restarted negotiations in 2020 with the goal of finishing the process by 2021, however unanticipated problems caused the process to be postponed.

Nevertheless, the nation participated in the WTO as an observer for around 20 years, but it was unable to become a member since it could not match the demands of the other nations.

One of the main issues that member nations brought up was Ethiopia’s response to liberalization of the finance and telecommunications sectors.

The government has opened up the aforementioned two sectors on its own initiative, despite the process having been put on hold for the previous three years.

About 29 years ago, 125 nations founded the WTO with the intention of accelerating commerce and the global economy. There are 164 members as of now.

The primary goal of the intergovernmental World Trade Organization is to guarantee unhindered and unrestricted international commerce between states.

Local laws of a nation that is a member of the WTO are not allowed to conflict with WTO rules and regulations.

In addition, the WTO acts as a mediator, giving member nations a forum to discuss and settle trade disputes when they emerge.

Approximately 96.4 percent of global commerce is presently governed by WTO rules and regulations.

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