WTO delegation visits Ethiopia

The delegation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) visited Ethiopia and discuss Ethiopia’s accession to the WTO with the members of Ethiopian parliament.

The Trade and Industry Affairs Standing Committee of the House of Peoples’.Representatives *Ethiopian Parliament) have met with the delegation of WTO on Monday this week in Addis Ababa, according to the information from Ethiopian Parliament. Ethiopia applied to the WTO for observer status in 1997, when the WTO was only two years old. It began its accession process in May 2008 with an Accession Working Party meeting in Geneva.

Ethiopia hopes that the WTO accession process will support regulatory and administrative changes while improving the quality of economic management institutions. This process was put on hold by the Government of Ethiopia in 2012. About two weeks ago, Ethiopia formally resumed its WTO accession process with the holding of an Accession Working Party as a complement to Ethiopia’s extensive program of domestic economic reforms.

Ambassador Alan Wm. Wolff, Deputy Director-General of WTO and head of the delegation appreciated the recent moves of Ethiopia in reinstating its desire to join the organization. He extended it to the parliament due to its readiness to ratify the hoped agreement, in which most of the frameworks are believed to be wrapped-up by the end of 2020.

“The rate of change in Ethiopia, and the prospects for further change, is outstandingly positive, moving the country toward greater openness and connecting it more closely with other African nations and the world. The new government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), has embarked on an ambitious economic reform plan, with the aim of taking full advantage of the country’s development potential and transforming it into an icon of prosperity for the African continent by 2030. Trade and regional economic integration are given special emphasis in this reform plan”, the Deputy Director-General said.

Ambassador Wolff concluded his remarks saying; “support for Ethiopia’s accession and the fulfillment of the promise of the African Continent Free Trade Area must be, and I am sure will be high priorities for the WTO. The result of the efforts of all those involved must be, and I believe will be, to improve the opportunities that you will have going forward as you choose your professions and enter the workforce.”

Ms Maika Oshikawa, Director for the Accessions Division of the WTO and part of the delegation on her part said; all the necessary legislation should be in place before embarking the full membership. And the parliament, as the committee said, shall consider the ratification process of the agreement before endorsing.

Ethiopian Parliament shall also participate in the coming major meeting of the WTO to retain some lessons from other countries legislature so that an additional exposure can help, she added.

It is learnt that members expressed unanimous support for the resumption of Ethiopia’s WTO membership negotiations at the 4th meeting of the Working Party on the country’s accession, held on 30 January 2020. It was the first meeting of the working party in almost eight years. The Ethiopian delegation said it was ready to work jointly with members to advance and, hopefully, conclude, Ethiopia’s accession process by the end of 2021.