Armenia Likely to Acquire WTO Membership in May

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenia is likely to become a member of the World Trade Organization by next May–announced Ara Hakobian–chairperson of the Department on Cooperation with WTO of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Armenia.

According to Hakobian–Armenia is still the only CIS country close to WTO membership. A special commission led by Minister of Industry and Trade Garnik Nanagulian has been set up by Prime Minister Kocharian to coordinate activities in promotion of Armenia’s membership to the WTO.

Hakobian said that a meeting of the WTO Supreme Body–the Council of Ministers–is scheduled to be held in Geneva next May. The meeting will coincide with the organization’s 50th anniversary. The WTO is going to mark the jubilee with some qualitative changes as well as by admitting new members. There are nearly 30 states who are moving toward WTO membership–and the most likely would-be members of the organization among the former Soviet republics are the Baltic States and Armenia. "The WTO’s interest are now quite obvious–and that allows Armenia to take advantage of the situation and resolve some of the problems related to the process of its membership as soon as possible," Hakobian said.

Hakobian also explained that bilateral negotiations with WTO-member countries were likely to end either in late February or early March. Armenia is currently holding talks with WTO members the United States–Canada–Australia–Switzerland and other European Union countries. They have been displaying their positive attitude to Armenia’s membership of the organization–recognizing that Armenia assumed liberalization as a basis for its economic policy and may become a reliable partner for WTO-member countries. A final meeting of the working group will be held in May.

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