Vanuatu will join WTO

Written By : Makereta Komai for PACNEWS in Brussels, Belgium. Samoa and Vanuatu are two of the ten African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations from the group ready to accede
03 Jun 2011 12:00

image Written By : Makereta Komai for PACNEWS in Brussels, Belgium. Samoa and Vanuatu are two of the ten African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations from the group ready to accede to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the end of this year.
Vanuatu, according to ACP meeting records, will accede before the end of the year while Samoa’s accession process is likely to be finalised by the end of 2011.
Samoa’s Ambassador to the ACP, Tuala Falani Chung confirmed his country was working towards accession and every effort was being made to fulfil the requirements of WTO.
In May, Samoa signed bilateral agreements with the United States, Canada and Ukraine, reaffirming the Pacific Island Government’s commitment to concluding its WTO accession process and to joining the multilateral trading system.
Its deputy Prime Minister, Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo at a meeting in Geneva with the WTO Secretary General, Pascal Lamy assured that despite Samoa’s status as a Least Developed Country, it was important to be part of the global trading system and the body on governing global trade rules. He said Samoa was likely to ‘realise its membership by December 2011.’
In Vanuatu’s case, the government has given the green light for signature of WTO membership.
A report of the Working Party on Vanuatu’s accession obtained by PACNEWS said Vanuatu had negotiated a high quality accession package which is now ready for adoption.
“Members acknowledged the hard work undertaken by Vanuatu throughout its membership negotiations, said the WTO Working Group.
WTO director general Pascal Lamy said: “Vanuatu’s accession to the WTO is a sign of confidence in the organisation and the multilateral trading system. WTO membership will enable Vanuatu, a least-developed country, to participate more fully in the global economy and will provide the country with a predictable and stable basis for growth and development. For the WTO, Vanuatu’s accession brings us one step closer to our goal of universal membership”.
Vanuatu applied to WTO membership in July 1995 but requested for more time to consider its accession terms in 2001. In 2008, Vanuatu indicated its interest to resume and conclude its WTO accession. Vanuatu’s accession package was technically updated to take into account new developments in its trade regime and the Working Party reconvened informally in April this year to discuss and finalise Vanuatu’s WTO membership.
Commenting on the Samoa and Vanuatu’s move towards WTO membership, the European Union affirmed that both the countries ‘records’ are consistent with the requirements of the WTO.
“The EU had signed bilateral deals with Samoa in June 2010 and while Vanuatu accepted some downgrading of a deal that was agreed and closed several years ago.
However, the ACP on behalf of a number of its Least Developed Countries (LDCs) members that are facing difficulties with WTO accession, pleaded with the EU not to demand excessive commitment from ACP acceding countries.
“The EU should not demand commitments that exceed those assumed in the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPAs) from acceding ACP countries, said the report of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors.
At the same time, ACP countries are asking the EU to assist LDC members with human and institutional aspects of their accession processes.
Several ACP countries, in particular LDCs have engaged in meaningful negotiations and internal reforms to reach the last steps of their accession process.
In response to ACP requests, the EU said flexibility can only be used within the rules of the WTO guidelines.
“There is no automatic entry into WTO and there is ‘no one size fits all’ process. The EU will support the ACP but substance will drive the process and not the other way round, said the ACP meeting record.

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