A Handbook on Accession to the WTO

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The Handbook provides the first detailed explanation and analysis of the process whereby governments become Members of the WTO. The WTO Agreement, which came into force on 1 January, 1995, provides few details on how this process is to take place. Consequently, the steps in the detailed negotiations leading up to access have evolved through the actual negotiations for governments which have become Members of the WTO since 1995. This handbook is unique in providing an account of how the process evolved and in offering details on the process as it is now applied. Moreover, the input of the WTO Secretariat into the preparation of the guide provides information not available until now to anyone outside the Secretariat. The Secretariat has supported production of this handbook in the hope it will serve as a useful source of reference for officials from acceding governments, WTO Members, academia, and the general public.




Since the establishment of the WTO on 1 January 1995, no less than 23 States and separate customs territories have joined the multilateral trading system through the procedures of Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement. These represent a range of economies, from global players to important emerging and transition economies and least-developed countries. A relatively large number are at various stages of the accession process. A certain limited number have still to take the decision to seek WTO membership.


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