Ethiopia Takes Bold Stride Towards World Trade Organization Membership

Ethiopia Takes Bold Stride Towards World Trade Organization Membership

Ethiopia establishes new negotiating team for world trade organization membership.

Ethiopia has taken a significant step towards joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) by forming a new national committee tasked with managing WTO membership negotiations and strengthening regional trade ties.

The Ministry of Trade and Regional Coordination made the announcement, highlighting the inclusion of senior leaders and experts from various government institutions in the committee.

Despite expressing its desire to become a WTO member on multiple occasions, Ethiopia faced challenges due to its inability to meet certain inclusivity requirements set by member countries, particularly in specific business sectors.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, upon assuming power five years ago, officially declared its intention to join the WTO as part of a broader agenda for radical economic reforms.

Commencing negotiations in 2020, the government concurrently worked towards meeting crucial preconditions set by member countries, particularly the opening up of the finance and telecom sectors.

Despite initial plans to join the WTO by 2021, Ethiopia, due to various reasons, has revised its strategy, aiming for WTO membership in 2026.

To gain acceptance into the WTO, a new member country requires unanimous approval from all existing member countries.

Meeting the stringent requirements and addressing the questions and concerns raised by member nations during the negotiation process is crucial, as it is intricate and time-consuming.

Ethiopia has been an observer in the WTO since 2003, utilizing this status to enhance trade policies and move towards becoming a permanent member.

Among the 55 countries in Africa, only 26 are WTO members, with Djibouti and Kenya representing East Africa. Globally, out of 164 countries, only 16 have chosen not to engage with the WTO as observers or members.

Ethiopia, alongside Afghanistan, Liberia, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, and Yemen, has submitted an application for WTO membership.

The organization, established in 1995 with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, plays a vital role in facilitating global trade.

As Ethiopia continues its pursuit of WTO membership, it faces the challenge of aligning its policies with international standards and fostering inclusive trade practices.


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