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Tajikistan Signs WTO Accession Accord

Tajikistan and the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally signed an accession agreement on Monday, paving the way for the former Soviet Central Asian Republic to become the 159th member of the global trade forum by the middle of next year.

The agreement on Tajikistan's assession to the global trade forum was signed by the Central Asian nation's President Emomali Rahmon and WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy at a ceremony held in Geneva on Monday.

By signing the accord, Tajikistan reaffirmed its commitment to fully comply with the WTO provisions without recurring to any transitional periods. It is now required to open up its markets to foreign goods and service providers in exchange for access to the markets of other WTO member-nations.

Tajikistan will become an official WTO member 30 days after its parliament ratifies the entry package signed Tuesday. The former Central Asian Soviet Republic is required to complete that formality by June 7, 2013.

Incidentally, the accession accord was the result of eleven years of negotiations aimed at joining the WTO. The development came after the trade grouping's General Council approved Tajikistan's entry terms in October.

In a statement issued Monday, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed the signing of Tajikistan's WTO accession accord, and said: "The EU is very pleased to welcome Tajikistan as a new member of the WTO family. I firmly believe that Tajikistan's accession will serve as a major engine for Central Asia's economic development."

The European bloc stressed in the statement that it will "continue to promote and boost trading and investment relations with Tajikistan and ensure its fully-fledged integration into the multilateral trade system."

Tajikistan is only the second the second Central Asian country to be admitted to the UN's trade body after Kyrgyzstan, which became a WTO member in 1998. Two other Central Asian states, namely Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, are still negotiating their WTO entry, while Turkmenistan is yet to apply for WTO membership. Russia was admitted into the trade grouping in August.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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