Azerbaijan’s Accession to the WTO: an end to facile optimism about the membership?

Azerbaijan’s Accession to the WTO: an end to facile optimism about the membership?

The World Trade Organization (WTO) believes that Azerbaijan has not passed even a quarter of the way to full membership in the WTO.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) believes that Azerbaijan has not passed even a quarter of the way to full membership in the WTO. According to the WTO repots, Azerbaijan is not yet ready for adoption of Draft Accession Package and the Memorandum on the results of activity of the working groups that would make the half of the accession process. In multilateral negotiations Azerbaijan has done only ¾ of the way to the Draft Working Party Report (DWPR) and nothing at all in plurilateral process, which discusses the proposals for agriculture and other sectors. Bilateral negotiations with the WTO members are considered completed by 50%.

According to the WTO Assessment, the chair of the working party, Ambassador Walter Werner (Germany), commended Azerbaijan for its progress in bringing its trade regime in compliance with WTO rules but urged members and Azerbaijan to “accelerate” the pace of negotiations.

H.E. Mr Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief Negotiator, announced the adoption of a national strategic roadmap aimed at diversifying Azerbaijan’s economy and tackling the challenges caused by the decline in international oil and gas prices. Members of the working party expressed the hope that Azerbaijan would complete its accession negotiations in the near future. “We reaffirm our commitment to accede to the WTO and to enact all possible measures to intensify the process,” the delegation of Azerbaijan said.

In analysing to what extent Azerbaijan’s foreign trade regime complies with WTO rules, members sought clarification on privatization plans, customs valuation, internal taxation, technical regulations and standards, trade-relayed investment measures, intellectual property rights and trade in services. In addition, the chair reported on discussions on agricultural domestic support, which had taken place a day earlier with interested members. Azerbaijan updated members on legislative developments, including the adoption of a new law on anti-dumping, safeguards and countervailing measures.

Mr Werner recalled that “progress in bilateral negotiations is essential to move the accession forward” and urged members and Azerbaijan to “maintain bilateral contacts in a proactive manner”, with the aim of reporting progress at the next meeting of the working party.

Azerbaijan has been invited to submit written replies to members’ questions, an updated Legislative Action Plan and copies of relevant draft and adopted legislation.

Mr Werner urged members and Azerbaijan to “accelerate work and to aim for the next meeting to be early next year”.

© CESD, 2016

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