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The process by which a country or autonomous customs territory joins the WTO.
There are four stages to the accession process. First, all aspects of the acceding country/customs territory's trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements are reviewed through the examination of a Memorandum on its Foreign Trade Regime and its responses to questions posed. Second, parallel bilateral talks begin between the prospective new member and individual WTO Members to determine the concessions and commitments (in the form of tariff reductions, non-tariffs measures application, agricultural commitments and specific commitments in trade in services) other WTO Members can expect when the new Member joins. Third, the terms of accession are finalised. Fourth, the final package, consisting of the report, protocol and lists of concessions and commitments, is presented to the WTO General Council or the Ministerial Conference for adoption. The acceding country/customs territory becomes a WTO Member thirty days after its acceptance of the Protocol.
Reference to WTO mandate
Article XII of the WTO AgreementDoha Ministerial Declaration, par. 42
Examples of typical activities
(i) preparation and/or identification of changes to laws, regulations, policies, and procedures necessary to comply with the terms of WTO membership; (ii) assistance to enhance and improve the participation of the acceding country in its WTO working party; (iii) dissemination of information on the WTO principles and objectives, and enhancement of understanding of WTO Agreements; (iv) implementation of WTO rules and obligations, and participation in WTO decision-making processes; etc..


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