Strengthening transparency in the multilateral trading system: The contribution of the WTO accession process

What specific obligations on transparency and notifications have been negotiated as part of the terms of accession to the WTO since 1995? What patterns and trends have emerged with regard to transparency and notification requirements in WTO accessions over time? What is the implementation behaviour on notification requirements of the states or separate customs territories that have negotiated their terms of accession, pursuant to Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and joined the WTO in the period 1995 to 2013? How does the compliance of Article XII members on notification requirements under the WTO Agreements compare to the compliance behaviour of original members? By reviewing the empirical data available from more than thirty completed WTO accessions since 1995, representing about one-fifth of the WTO membership, this chapter examines each of these questions, assessing the extent to which the negotiated accession commitments on transparency have affected the existing transparency and notification obligations under the WTO Agreements. The results of this review suggest that the specific transparency and notification obligations resulting from accession negotiations have safeguarded and reinforced existing transparency requirements embedded across all WTO Agreements. They have also resulted in positive implementation behaviour, with regard to notification requirements, by WTO members that joined the WTO between 1995 and 2013, and have thus improved the compliance rate of the overall WTO membership. The number and scope of specific transparency commitments negotiated in WTO accessions underscores the importance that the WTO membership attaches to transparency, one of its founding principles.

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