December 17, 2015
The World Trade Organization (WTO) formally adopted Afghanistan’s terms of accession into the renowned multilateral trading organization at the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference on December 17 in Nairobi, Kenya. Afghanistan will have until June 2016 to ratify the deal and formally become WTO’s 164th Member, joining a global trading organization that accounts for about 95 percent of the world’s commerce.
In preparation, Afghanistan engaged in ambitious legal and administrative reforms in areas such as trade policy, customs, food safety, animal and plant health, intellectual property, and standardization. These reforms will benefit Afghan consumers and businesses as well as foreign firms seeking to do business with Afghanistan. Afghanistan also 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, Turkey, and the United States).
“I would like to assure you that Afghanistan is committed to playing by the rules of the multilateral trading system,” said Afghanistan’s Minister of Commerce and Industries Humayoon Rasaw at WTO’s headquarters in Geneva prior to 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.”
WTO membership will open lucrative markets for Afghanistan and provide a number of rights for the landlocked country, including the critical right to transit. WTO membership will send a signal that Afghanistan has established a predictable, transparent, and cost-efficient business environment that upholds the rule of law and protects investor rights.
“As we acknowledge the importance of this development, we want to congratulate Afghanistan in becoming a member of the WTO,” said U.S. Ambassador P. Michael McKinley. “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. By joining the WTO, Afghanistan also becomes more attractive to investors and facilitates the growth of trade and economic ties with the region. Afghanistan’s people and businesses will benefit from greater job opportunities, administrative transparency, and confidence in the future.”
USAID has worked closely with the Afghan government and private sector since 2009 and will continue supporting Afghanistan in fulfilling its WTO commitments following membership through the Afghanistan Trade and Revenue (ATAR) project.