Yemen to become 160th WTO member

National Yemen

A group of women selling Lhouh and Malooj near by Bab Al-Yemen in Sana’a

Yemen deposited its “Instrument of Acceptance” on 27 May 2014 with Director-General Roberto Azevedo, confirming its membership terms. According to WTO rules, Yemen will become a full-fledged member on 26 June 2014

By depositing the document with Director-General Roberto Azevêdo, Yemen activated the 30-day countdown to its WTO membership which will be effective on 26 June 2014. In the “Instrument of Acceptance”, the Yemeni government declares that the law approving Yemen’s Protocol of Accession enacted by Parliament was issued by the President of Yemen on 11 May 2014.

Yemen applied for WTO membership in April 2000. It completed its application process on 26 September 2013 when the Working Partyconcluded its accessions negotiations and adopted the report of the Working Party ad referendum (ie subject to formal approval by the Ministerial Conference).

Trade ministers of WTO members officially approved Yemen’s accession on4 December 2014 during the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia. The Protocol of Accession (document WT/L/905) was signed by H.E. Dr Saadaldeen Talib, Yemeni Minister of Trade and Industry, and WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo.

Saadaldeen Ali Salim Talib, said “We have easy access to three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe. Our location is on the highway of trade. Our port in Aden is three hours away from the highway,” Talib told reporters.

“We want to be on the value chain with the rest of the economies of the world,” he added, saying it would revive an age-old trading history that saw Yemeni seafarer communities take root in places as far apart as Wales and Indonesia.

Yemen is the seventh least-developed country (LDC) to accede to the multilateral trading system since the WTO was established in 1995. As an LDC, Yemen will benefit from technical assistance and capacity building from the WTO Secretariat to support the implementation of its accessions commitments, negotiate trade rules and develop the trade-related skills and infrastructure needed to benefit from its WTO membership.

WTO accession negotiations can be tortuous — Yemen’s began in 2000 — as would-be members first strike deals with countries already in the trade body.

Those accords are then folded together into a single accession treaty setting out the give and take involved in joining the club.

“It’s been a hard process,” said Talib, underlining that Yemen was also trying to break with years of instability, enacting political and economic reforms hand in hand.

“We hope that the new Yemen will have a bigger role in the international scene, especially in trade and industry and getting connected with the rest of the world,” he told reporters.

WTO membership is seen as a key step in the global economy because it gives countries easier access to other countries’ markets under a set of agreed rules, as well as a forum to deal with trade disputes.

It is also considered a badge of confidence.

“The reform process has not always been easy. But in becoming a member of the WTO, Yemen has sent a very clear signal to traders and investors that the country is open for business,” Azevedo told reporters.

“It brings out organisation closer to universal membership. It is a sign of the relevance and vibrancy of the global trading system,” he said.