WTO Accessions: Ethiopia to Submit Services Offer by September

18 July 2013

Ethiopia will be submitting to current WTO members an offer on services- including key sectors, such as banking and telecommunications - by September, trade ministry officials have said this past week, in an effort to advance its accession efforts. After a decade of negotiations, Ethiopian officials say they are now confident of being able to join the 159-member body by 2015.

However, Chiedu Osakwe, director of the WTO's accessions division, told Bloomberg on Monday that much work remains before the accession process can be finalised, with the talks now needing to "change gears." Under WTO rules, all current members must sign off for a new member to join, a process involving both multilateral and bilateral negotiations.

Ethiopia, which is also a least developed country (LDC) first applied to join the WTO in 2003. However, accession to the global trade body is a process that usually takes several years, and has often proven particularly difficult for the world's poorest nations. In that context, WTO members agreed last year on a set of revised guidelines for LDCs aimed at facilitating this process. (See Bridges Weekly, 4 July 2012)

Ethiopia's gross domestic product has grown an average of nine percent over the past 10 years, ranking it as Africa's second-fastest growing economy.

ICTSD reporting; "Ethiopia Plans to Make WTO Offer on Services by September," BLOOMBERG, 15 July 2013; "Ethiopia expected to join WTO in 2015 - ministry," REUTERS, 10 July 2013.

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