Member states of the World Trade Organization

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The original member states of the World Trade Organization are the parties to the GATT after ratifying the Uruguay Round Agreements,[1] and the European Communities. They obtained this status at the entry into force on 1 January 1995 or upon their date of ratification. All other members have joined the organization as a result of negotiation, and membership consists of a balance of rights and obligations.[2] The process of becoming a World Trade Organization (WTO) member is unique to each applicant country, and the terms of accession are dependent upon the country's stage of economic development and the current trade regime.[3]

An offer of accession is given once consensus is reached among members.[4] The process takes about five years, on average, but it can take some countries almost a decade if the country is less than fully committed to the process, or if political issues interfere. The shortest accession negotiation was that of Kyrgyzstan, lasting 2 years and 10 months. The longest were that of Russia, lasting 19 years and 2 months,[5] Vanuatu, lasting 17 years and 1 month,[6] and China, lasting 15 years and 5 months.[7]

As of 2007, WTO member states represented 96.4% of global trade and 96.7% of global GDP.[8] Iran, followed by Algeria, are the economies with the largest GDP and trade outside the WTO, using 2005 data.[9][10]

Accession process[edit]

WTO accession progress:[11]
  Draft Working Party Report or Factual Summary adopted
  Goods and/or Services offers submitted
  Working party meetings
  Memorandum on Foreign Trade Regime submitted
  Working party established

A country wishing to accede to the WTO submits an application to the General Council. The government applying for membership has to describe all aspects of its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO agreements.[2] The application is submitted to the WTO in a memorandum which is examined by a working party open to all interested WTO Members, and dealing with the country's application. For large countries such as Russia, numerous countries participate in this process. For smaller countries, the Quadrilateral group of countries – consisting of the EU, the United States, Canada and Japan – and an applicant's neighboring countries are typically most involved.[12] The applicant then presents a detailed memorandum to the Working Party on its foreign trade regime, describing, among other things, its economy, economic policies, domestic and international trade regulations, and intellectual property policies. The Working Party Members submit written questions to the applicant to clarify aspects of its foreign trade regime with particular attention being paid to the degree of privatization in the economy and the extent to which government regulation is transparent.[13] After all necessary background information has been acquired, the Working Party will begin meeting to focus on issues of discrepancy between the WTO rules and the Applicant's international and domestic trade policies and laws. The WP determines the terms and conditions of entry into the WTO for the applicant nation, and may consider transitional periods to allow countries some leeway in complying with the WTO rules.[3]

The final phase of accession involves bilateral negotiations between the applicant nation and other Working Party members regarding the concessions and commitments on tariff levels and market access for goods and services. These talks cover tariff rates and specific market access commitments, and other policies in goods and services. The new member's commitments are to apply equally to all WTO members under normal non-discrimination rules, even though they are negotiated bilaterally. In other words, the talks determine the benefits (in the form of export opportunities and guarantees) other WTO members can expect when the new member joins. The talks can be highly complicated; it has been said that in some cases the negotiations are almost as large as an entire round of multilateral trade negotiations.[2]

When the bilateral talks conclude, the working party finalizes the terms of accession, sends an accession package, which includes a summary of all the WP meetings, the Protocol of Accession (a draft membership treaty), and lists ("schedules") of the member-to-be's commitments to the General Council or Ministerial Conference. Once the General Council or Ministerial Conference approves of the terms of accession, the applicant's parliament must ratify the Protocol of Accession before it can become a member.[14] The documents used in the accession process which are embargoed during the accession process are released once the nation becomes a member.[3]

Members and observers[edit]

A world map of WTO participation:
  Members
  Members, dually represented with the European Union
  Observers
  Non-members

As of December 2017, the WTO has 164 members.[15] Of the 128 states party to the GATT at the end of 1994, all have since become WTO members except for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which had dissolved in 1992 and was suspended from participating in GATT at the time.[16][17] Four other states, China, Lebanon, Liberia, Syria, were parties to GATT but subsequently withdrew from the treaty prior to the establishment of the WTO.[16][18] China and Liberia have since acceded to the WTO. The remaining WTO members acceded after first becoming WTO observers and negotiating membership.

The 28 states of the European Union are dually represented, as the EU is a full member of the organization. Non-sovereign autonomous entities of member states are eligible for full membership in the WTO provided that they have a separate customs territory with full autonomy in the conduct of their external commercial relations. Thus, Hong Kong became a GATT contracting party, by the now terminated "sponsorship" procedure of the United Kingdom (Hong Kong uses the name "Hong Kong, China" since 1997), as did Macau. A new member of this type is the Republic of China (Taiwan), which acceded to the WTO in 2002, and carefully crafted its application by joining under the name "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei)"[19][20] so that they were not rejected as a result of the People's Republic of China One-China policy.

The WTO also has 23 observer states,[15] that with the exception of the Holy See must start their accession negotiations within five years of becoming observers. The last country admitted as observer-only before applying for full membership was Equatorial Guinea in 2002, but since 2007 it is also in full membership negotiations. In 2007 Liberia and Comoros applied directly for full membership. Some international intergovernmental organizations are also granted observer status to WTO bodies.[21] The Palestinian Authority submitted a request for WTO observer status in October 2009[22] and again in April 2010.[23]

Afghanistan is the newest member, joining effective 29 July 2016.[24]

Russia was one of the only two large economies outside of the WTO after Saudi Arabia joined in 2005.[25][26] It had begun negotiating to join the WTO's predecessor in 1993. The final major point of contention – related to the 2008 Russo-Georgian War – was solved through mediation by Switzerland,[25] leading to Russian membership in 2012. The other is Iran, which is an observer state and begun negotiations in 1996.

List of members and accession dates[edit]

The following table lists all current members, their accession date and previous GATT membership.[15][17]

Country[15][27][17] Date of Accession GATT membership
 Afghanistan 29 July 2016
 Albania 8 September 2000
 Angola 23 November 1996 8 April 1994
 Antigua and Barbuda 1 January 1995 30 March 1987
 Argentina 1 January 1995 11 October 1967
 Armenia 5 February 2003
 Australia 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Austria ( EU) 1 January 1995 19 October 1951
 Bahrain 1 January 1995 13 December 1993
 Bangladesh 1 January 1995 16 December 1972
 Barbados 1 January 1995 15 February 1967
 Belgium ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Belize 1 January 1995 7 October 1983
 Benin 22 February 1996 12 September 1963
 Bolivia 12 September 1995 8 September 1990
 Botswana 31 May 1995 28 August 1987
 Brazil 1 January 1995 30 July 1948
 Brunei Darussalam 1 January 1995 9 December 1993
 Bulgaria ( EU since 2007) 1 December 1996
 Burkina Faso 3 June 1995 3 May 1963
 Burundi 23 July 1995 13 March 1965
 Cambodia 13 October 2004
 Cameroon 13 December 1995 3 May 1963
 Canada 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Cape Verde 23 July 2008
 Central African Republic 31 May 1995 3 May 1963
 Chad 19 October 1996 12 July 1963
 Chile 1 January 1995 16 March 1949
 China 11 December 2001
 Colombia 30 April 1995 3 October 1981
 Republic of the Congo 27 March 1997 3 May 1963
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 1 January 1997 11 September 1971
 Costa Rica 1 January 1995 24 November 1990
 Côte d'Ivoire 1 January 1995 31 December 1963
 Croatia ( EU since 2013) 30 November 2000
 Cuba 20 April 1995 1 January 1948
 Cyprus ( EU since 2004) 30 July 1995 15 July 1963
 Czech Republic ( EU since 2004) 1 January 1995 15 April 1993
 Denmark ( EU) 1 January 1995 28 May 1950
 Djibouti 31 May 1995 16 December 1994
 Dominica 1 January 1995 20 April 1993
 Dominican Republic 9 March 1995 19 May 1950
 Ecuador 21 January 1996
 Egypt 30 June 1995 9 May 1970
 El Salvador 7 May 1995 22 May 1991
 Estonia ( EU since 2004) 13 November 1999
 European Union[note 1] 1 January 1995
 Fiji 14 January 1996 16 November 1993
 Finland ( EU) 1 January 1995 25 May 1950
 France ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Gabon 1 January 1995 3 May 1963
 Gambia 23 October 1996 22 February 1965
 Georgia 14 June 2000
 Germany ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 October 1951
 Ghana 1 January 1995 17 October 1957
 Greece ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 March 1950
 Grenada 22 February 1996 9 February 1994
 Guatemala 21 July 1995 10 October 1991
 Guinea 25 October 1995 8 December 1994
 Guinea-Bissau 31 May 1995 17 March 1994
 Guyana 1 January 1995 5 July 1966
 Haiti 30 January 1996 1 January 1950
 Honduras 1 January 1995 10 April 1994
 Hong Kong, China[note 2] 1 January 1995 23 April 1986
 Hungary ( EU since 2004) 1 January 1995 9 September 1973
 Iceland 1 January 1995 21 April 1968
 India 1 January 1995 8 July 1948
 Indonesia 1 January 1995 24 February 1950
 Ireland ( EU) 1 January 1995 22 December 1967
 Israel 21 April 1995 5 July 1962
 Italy ( EU) 1 January 1995 30 May 1950
 Jamaica 9 March 1995 31 December 1963
 Japan 1 January 1995 10 September 1955
 Jordan 11 April 2000
 Kazakhstan 30 November 2015
 Kenya 1 January 1995 5 February 1964
 South Korea 1 January 1995 14 April 1967
 Kuwait 1 January 1995 3 May 1963
 Kyrgyzstan 20 December 1998
 Laos 2 February 2013
 Latvia ( EU since 2004) 10 February 1999
 Lesotho 31 May 1995 8 January 1988
 Liberia 14 July 2016
 Liechtenstein 1 September 1995 29 March 1994
 Lithuania ( EU since 2004) 31 May 2001
 Luxembourg ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Macau, China[note 3] 1 January 1995 11 January 1991
 Republic of Macedonia 4 April 2003
 Madagascar 17 November 1995 30 September 1963
 Malawi 31 May 1995 28 August 1964
 Malaysia 1 January 1995 24 October 1957
 Maldives 31 May 1995 19 April 1983
 Mali 31 May 1995 11 January 1993
 Malta ( EU since 2004) 1 January 1995 17 November 1964
 Mauritania 31 May 1995 30 September 1963
 Mauritius 1 January 1995 2 September 1970
 Mexico 1 January 1995 24 August 1986
 Moldova 26 July 2001
 Mongolia 29 January 1997
 Montenegro 29 April 2012[28]
 Morocco 1 January 1995 17 June 1987
 Mozambique 26 August 1995 27 July 1992
 Myanmar 1 January 1995 29 July 1948
 Namibia 1 January 1995 15 September 1992
   Nepal 23 April 2004
 Netherlands ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 New Zealand 1 January 1995 30 July 1948
 Nicaragua 3 September 1995 28 May 1950
 Niger 13 December 1996 31 December 1963
 Nigeria 1 January 1995 18 November 1960
 Norway 1 January 1995 10 July 1948
 Oman 9 November 2000
 Pakistan 1 January 1995 30 July 1948
 Panama 6 September 1997
 Papua New Guinea 9 June 1996 16 December 1994
 Paraguay 1 January 1995 6 January 1994
 Peru 1 January 1995 7 October 1951
 Philippines 1 January 1995 27 December 1979
 Poland ( EU since 2004) 1 July 1995 18 October 1967
 Portugal ( EU) 1 January 1995 6 May 1962
 Qatar 13 January 1996 7 April 1994
 Romania ( EU since 2007) 1 January 1995 14 November 1971
 Russia 22 August 2012
 Rwanda 22 May 1996 1 January 1966
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 21 February 1996 24 March 1994
 Saint Lucia 1 January 1995 13 April 1993
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1 January 1995 18 May 1993
 Samoa 10 May 2012[28]
 Saudi Arabia 11 December 2005
 Senegal 1 January 1995 27 September 1963
 Seychelles 26 April 2015
 Sierra Leone 23 July 1995 19 May 1961
 Singapore 1 January 1995 20 August 1973
 Slovakia ( EU since 2004) 1 January 1995 15 April 1993
 Slovenia ( EU since 2004) 30 July 1995 30 October 1994
 Solomon Islands 26 July 1996 28 December 1994
 South Africa 1 January 1995 13 June 1948
 Spain ( EU) 1 January 1995 29 August 1963
 Sri Lanka 1 January 1995 29 July 1948
 Suriname 1 January 1995 22 March 1978
 Swaziland 1 January 1995 8 February 1993
 Sweden ( EU) 1 January 1995 30 April 1950
  Switzerland 1 July 1995 1 August 1966
 Taiwan (as Chinese Taipei)[note 4] 1 January 2002
 Tajikistan 2 March 2013
 Tanzania 1 January 1995 9 December 1961
 Thailand 1 January 1995 20 November 1982
 Togo 31 May 1995 20 March 1964
 Tonga 27 July 2007
 Trinidad and Tobago 1 March 1995 23 October 1962
 Tunisia 29 March 1995 29 August 1990
 Turkey 26 March 1995 17 October 1951
 Uganda 1 January 1995 23 October 1962
 Ukraine 16 May 2008
 United Arab Emirates 10 April 1996 8 March 1994
 United Kingdom ( EU) 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 United States 1 January 1995 1 January 1948
 Uruguay 1 January 1995 6 December 1953
 Vanuatu 24 August 2012[6]
 Venezuela 1 January 1995 31 August 1990
 Vietnam 11 January 2007
 Yemen 26 June 2014
 Zambia 1 January 1995 10 February 1982
 Zimbabwe 5 March 1995 11 July 1948
Notes
  1. ^ All member states of the European Union are also members of the WTO individually.
  2. ^ As  Hong Kong until 1997.
  3. ^ As Flag of Macau (1976–1999) Macau until 1999.
  4. ^ The Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu referred to as "Chinese Taipei".

List of observers[edit]

The following table lists all 23 WTO observers.[15][29] Within five years of being granted observer status by the WTO, states are required to begin negotiating their accession to the organization.[15]

Country Date of membership application
 Algeria 3 June 1987
 Andorra 4 July 1997
 Azerbaijan 30 June 1997
 The Bahamas 10 May 2001
 Belarus 23 September 1993
 Bhutan 1 September 1999
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 11 May 1999
 Comoros 22 February 2007
 Equatorial Guinea 19 February 2007
 Ethiopia 13 January 2003
 Holy See None[a] (Observer since 16 July 1997)[30]
 Iran 19 July 1996
 Iraq 30 September 2004
 Lebanon[b] 30 January 1999
 Libya 10 June 2004
 São Tomé and Príncipe 14 January 2005
 Serbia 23 December 2004
 Somalia 12 December 2015[31]
 South Sudan 5 December 2017[32]
 Sudan 11 October 1994
 Syria[b] 10 October 2001
 Timor-Leste 9 April 2015[31]
 Uzbekistan 8 December 1994
Notes
  1. ^ The Holy See is exempted from having to negotiate full WTO membership.[15]
  2. ^ a b Was a party to GATT prior to withdrawing.[18][16]

Neither members nor observers[edit]

The following table lists all the UN member states and UN observer states which are neither members nor observers of the WTO.[15]

Curaçao and Kosovo have both also expressed an interest in joining the WTO.[35]

Notes
  1. ^ Submitted applications for observer status on 2 October 2009 and 12 April 2010.[33][34]
  2. ^ a b Expression of interest in membership application.[35][36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Legal texts: the WTO agreements at World Trade Organization
  2. ^ a b c Membership, Alliances and Bureaucracy, World Trade Organization
  3. ^ a b c Accessions Summary, Center for International Development
  4. ^ C. Michalopoulos, WTO Accession, 64
  5. ^ Russia's entry to WTO ends 19 years of negotiations The Guardian, 22 August 2012
  6. ^ a b Vanuatu:accession status at WTO official website
  7. ^ P. Farah, "Five Years of China's WTO Membership", 263–304
  8. ^ "Accession in perspective". World Trade Organization. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  9. ^ "ANNEX 1. STATISTICAL SURVEY". World Trade Organization. 2005. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  10. ^ Arjomandy, Danial (2013-11-21). "Iranian Membership in the World Trade Organization: An Unclear Future". Iranian Studies. doi:10.1080/00210862.2013.859810. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  11. ^ "Summary Table of Ongoing Accessions". World Trade Organization. April 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  12. ^ C. Michalopoulos, WTO Accession, 62
  13. ^ C. Michalopoulos, WTO Accession, 63
  14. ^ How to Become a Member of the WTO, World Trade Organization
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Members and Observers at WTO official website
  16. ^ a b c "World Trade Report" (PDF). World Trade Organization. 2007. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  17. ^ a b c "The 128 countries that had signed GATT by 1994". World Trade Organization. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  18. ^ a b "Article XXXI - Withdrawal" (PDF). World Trade Organization. Retrieved 2014-04-11. 
  19. ^ Jackson J. H., Sovereignty, p. 109
  20. ^ "Member information - Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (Chinese Taipei) and the WTO". World Trade Organization. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  21. ^ International Intergovernmental Organizations Granted Observer Status to WTO Bodies, World Trade Organization
  22. ^ "Palestine - Request for Observer Status". Taiwan WTO Center. 6 October 2009. Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  23. ^ "Palestine - Request for Observer Status". Taiwan TWO Center. 13 April 2010. Archived from the original on 22 December 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Afghanistan to become 164th WTO member on 29 July 2016". World Trade Organization. 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-07-01. 
  25. ^ a b "Russia becomes WTO member after 18 years of talks". BBC. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  26. ^ Heilprin, John (17 December 2011). "Russia gets approval to join the WTO". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  27. ^ Status of WTO Legal Instruments (PDF). World Trade Organization. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  28. ^ a b Montenegro and Samoa strengthen the WTO WTO media release, 30 April 2012
  29. ^ "WTO Members and Accession Candidates". World Trade Organization. March 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  30. ^ "Welcome to the Holy See Mission". Holy See Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Retrieved 2013-04-24. 
  31. ^ a b "WT/ACC/28 - WTO Accessions: 2016 Annual Report by the Director-General — Statement by the Director-General". World Trade Organization. 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-07. 
  32. ^ "WTO Accession Newsletter" (PDF). World Trade Organization. December 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-26. 
  33. ^ "WT/L/770 - PALESTINE – REQUEST FOR OBSERVER STATUS". World Trade Organization. 2009-10-06. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  34. ^ "WT/L/792 - PALESTINE – REQUEST FOR OBSERVER STATUS". World Trade Organization. 2010-04-13. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  35. ^ a b "WTO Accessions 2017 - Annual Report by the Director-General" (PDF). World Trade Organization. 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2017-12-18. 
  36. ^ Aliyeva, Kamila (2017-02-21). "Turkmenistan studies possibility of WTO membership". Azernews. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 

Bibliography and Web[edit]