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7th CRT in Astana: Experience and lessons learned on WTO accessions from Eurasia

by September 26, 2018 Market

Within 2 days the capital of Kazakhstan � Astana � is hosting one of the most prestigious events as part of the WTO (World Trade Organization) � the Seventh China Round Table (CRT). Ministers and heads of delegations from 40 countries have come to Astana in order to sustain discussions on the integration of new members in the rule-based multilateral trading system. What will they discuss during the Seventh China Round Table? Which objectives does the CRT have? Read more in the review material of the Information Agency.

The Seventh China Round Table is funded by the Government of China, hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan, and organized by the WTO Secretariat, as part of the agreed activities under the China-WTO MOU.

It should be noted that in July 2011, the Government of China signed the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the WTO on the China LDCs’ (Least-Developed Countries) and Accessions Programme (The China Programme), which has thereafter been extended on a yearly basis. The China Programme finances the WTO Accessions Internship Programme and the Annual Round Table process, designed to build capacity and technical skills in trade policy, including on accession negotiations, for least-developed and developing countries.

Since 2012, the successive China Round Tables (CRTs) have served as platform to discuss wide ranging accession-related issues. To date, six Round Tables have been held in three continents: CRT-01 in Beijing, China in May 2012; CRT-02 in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR in October 2013; CRT-03 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in June 2015; CRT-04 in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2015; CRT-05 in Siem Reap, Cambodia in March 2017; and CRT-06 in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December 2017. The Seventh China Round Table (CRT-07) in Astana is focusing on Eurasian Perspectives on the Future of the Multilateral Trading System: Accessions and the Evolution of WTO Rules.

Historically, trade has played a critical role in shaping Eurasia by connecting various political, economic and social forces of people and communities, such as those located along the Silk Road. In modern times, trade has once again served as a catalyst for promoting dialogue and unlocking the economic potential of the newly-independent States which emerged following the redrawing of the Eurasian map in the early 1990s.

At the time of the establishment of the WTO in 1995, Eurasia was underrepresented in the Organization. During the last 23 years, 36 new Members acceded to the WTO, including many from Eurasia. Thus, the WTO has expanded to 164 Members and the reach of its rules and disciplines has been extended to over 98 per cent of global trade. With several large economies actively pursuing WTO Membership, Eurasia continues to be a source of strength and dynamism for the rules-based multilateral trading system.

Hosted in Astana, the China Round Table is providing a timely context for an exchange of views on the future of the multilateral trading system through WTO accessions and their systemic contributions. The specific objectives of the Round Table are as follows:

– To exchange views on the role and contributions of the Eurasian economies to the rules-based multilateral trading system and vice versa;

– To share direct experience and lessons learned on WTO accessions from Eurasia;

– To review the role of accessions in rule-making in the WTO; and

– To provide a platform for discussions on joint initiatives in trade.

The opening ceremony of the Seventh China Round Table in Astana was started with the opening remarks by Ambassador Alan Wm. Wolf, Deputy Director-General, WTO, who said that one of the objectives of the WTO is to ensure that all countries will use trade as a tool for economic development and achieving sustainability.

The process of WTO accession makes its contribution to improvement of economies, because this is a chance of peace, a chance of economic development for the countries that join WTO for the first time. In some area this is a kind of experiment for them how to integrate deeper into the world economy, how to improve their industry advantages. I think it’s very encouraging that 22 countries are waiting for a decision and many of them are very poor countries. Thus, the accession process has become increasingly important, Alan Wolf said.

Ambassador Zhanar Aitzhanova, Permanent Representative to the WTO, former Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession, Kazakhstan, noted that this prestigious event will help strengthen the interaction between our country and the WTO and will provide a wonderful opportunity for brainstorming and for an exchange of views. She mentioned that Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO was long and difficult, but, at the same time, it helped Kazakhstan to develop trade relations with 185 countries of the world.

As you know, Kazakhstan joined the WTO in November 2015, becoming the 162nd full member of this Organization. The negotiation process for WTO accession is considered one of the most difficult and unique negotiating processes in the history of the WTO. Members of the Organization recognized Kazakhstan as a country with a predictable and favorable investment climate that pursues trade policy in accordance with the international law. At present, Kazakhstan develops trade relations with 185 countries of the world, and more than 90 per cent of Kazakhstan’s trade falls on WTO Member countries. The volume of Kazakhstan’s foreign trade in 2017 amounted to 77 billion dollars. Over the past 10 years, the volume of foreign direct investments attracted to the economy of our country amounted to more than 200 billion dollars, Zh. Aitzhanova said.

In general, the holding of such events in Astana shows a testament to our country’s high confidence, the commitment of the world community to the fact that Kazakhstan is a regional leader among the countries that are going to join the WTO, as well as it provides an opportunity to demonstrate the investment attractiveness of the country.

Source: Kazakhstan 2050