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Text Box: Accessions resources
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[1] Michalopoulos, Constantine, "WTO Accession," in English, Philip, Bernard M. Hoekman, and Aaditya Matto (Eds.), Development, Trade and the WTO, Geneva: World Trade Organization, 2002, p. 64. [online: web] URL: http://publications.worldbank.org/catalog/content-download?revision_id=1526166. 
[2] Michalopoulos, Constantine, WTO Accession, p. 62.
[3] Michalopoulos, Constantine, WTO Accession, p. 63.
[4] WTO: Accession explanation
[5] WTO Cambodia accessions page. [6] WTO Russia accessions page
[7] See BBC News, "WTO chief urges Vietnam Reforms," London: BBC, 30 November 2001 [online: web] URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1683971.stm. 
[8] WTO News: Vietnam accession
[9] WTO Russia accessions page
[10] BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, ICTSD, 12 February 2004.
[11] Saudi's WTO bid making good progress, MENAFN, 6 March 2004.
[12] Kingdom Sets Limits to WTO Conditions, Arab News, 8 March 2004.
[13] BRIDGES Trade Digest, ICTSD, 12 February 2004.
[14] Kontorovich, Eugene. "Reconciling Political Sanctions with Globalization and Free Trade: The Arab League Boycott and WETO Accession: Can Foreign Policy Excuse Discriminatory Sanctions?" The University of Chicago Journal of International Law. Fall 2003. 
[15] See WTO Press Release.
 
Text Box: Accessions
The process of becoming a WTO member is unique to each Applicant (country), and the terms of accession are dependent upon the country's stage of economic development and current trade régime. Through a series of negotiations between the applicant country and current WTO Members, a set of mutually acceptable terms of accession is drawn up. 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. As is typical of WTO procedures, an offer of accession is only given once consensus is reached among interested parties. [1] 
 

 

 

 

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Text Box: Stages of the accessions process
The process of accession can be broken down into four major stages. In the first stage, a country wishing to accede to the WTO submits an application to the General Council. The General Council establishes a Working Party (WP) of all interested WTO Members. For large countries such as China and Russia, numerous countries participate in this process. For smaller countries the Quad countries - consisting of the EU, the United States, Canada, and Japan - and an applicant's neighboring countries are typically most involved. [2] The Applicant then present a detailed memorandum to the Working Party on its foreign trade régime, 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 régime with particular attention being paid to the degree of privatization in the economy and the extent to which government regulation is transparent. [3]
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.
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. When the bilateral talks conclude, the WP sends an accession package, which includes a summary of all the WP meetings and the Protocol of Accession, 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. [4] In the case of Cambodia, ratification has posed a problem because it was unable to form a government after its elections in July 2003. [5] The documents used in the accession process which were embargoed during the accession process are released once the nation becomes a member.[6]
Accessions in progress
Vietnam submitted its application in 1995, and has been delayed by issues such as customs valuations and intellectual property rights.[7] There is also disagreement over whether Vietnam's commitments should reflect its status as a low-income nation or as a nation potentially about to rapidly increase its per capita income. If Vietnam were classified as the former, it would be granted more flexibility and longer transition periods to come into compliance with WTO rules.[8] 
The Russian accession process has been particularly long and thorny. In 1993, Russia submitted its application for accession and in 2003, the WTO Working Party on the Accession of the Russian Federation agreed to an accelerated program of work.[9] The negotiations had stalled, however, over Russia's restrictions on meat imports, its refusal to sign the WTO's Agreement on Trade in Civil Aircraft and disagreements over the opening of its service sector to foreign competition.[10] In May 2004, Russia completed talks on market access with the EU but the accession process is not likely to be completed until 2006 at the earliest. 
As the largest oil exporter in the world, Saudi Arabia is the largest trading nation after Russia that is not a member of the WTO.[11] Saudi Arabia has reached bilateral agreements with many WTO members, but agreements with the U.S. and China are the last major hurdles in the accession process.[12] It is widely expected that Saudi Arabia will become a full member by the end of 2004.[13] It is unclear if the U.S. will insist that Saudi Arabia to end its boycott of trade with Israel as a condition of its accession. Saudi Arabia will likely invoke Article XXXV, the 'non-application clause', which allows them to not recognize Israel and thus not have to trade with it. Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia already used this option with their WTO accession to avoid commerce with Israel.[14] 
Developing countries and the accessions process
Least-developed countries continue to apply for membership in the WTO despite the complicated and costly accessions process because they recognize that the potential gains from increased trade far outweigh the initial costs of membership. In the Doha Ministerial Declaration of 2001, WTO members affirmed their commitments to easing the accession process for LDCs, and increasing the number of LDC members in the organization. In December 2002, a package of reforms was agreed upon to streamline the accessions process.[15]