By Adnan Abdullah
SANA'A, Sep. 22 (Saba) - Since years, Yemen has conducted several meetings and agreements as move toward getting membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Yemeni officials' hope that the bid of joining the WTO be concluded this year as membership of the body would boost economy of the country and provide access to technical assistance from the WTO and its 153 members.
They said that there was big progress towards the accession, expecting talks would be completed by the end of this year.
On Sunday, Minister of Trade and Industry Yahya al- Mutawakel headed for the Geneva leading the Yemeni delegation for the 8th meeting of the working group on Yemen' accession into the WTO.
Al-Mutawakel stated to Saba that the meeting is within final steps and negotiations for the accession.
He made it clear that such agreements are important for negotiations with the working group, adding that the government of Yemen had approved a package of legislations that would be amended and issued in accordance with the WTO agreements.
Last week, Yemen signed a bilateral agreement with South Korea on goods and services and a similar agreement would be signed with Japan soon, the minister said.
The German diplomat chairing the negotiations, Hartmut Roben said that he was encouraged by Yemen's efforts.
Reuters quoted Roben as saying "I am cautiously optimistic that Yemen's accession could approach its final stage over the coming months."
Roben said he hoped the working party could meet again this year to wrap up outstanding issues such as Yemen's treatment of services, intellectual property and customs valuation.
Director of Communication and Coordination Office with the WTO at the ministry of trade Hamoud al-Najar told 26september weekly and other media outlets that the main part of the accession is fitness of the country's investment and trade systems with the systems of other WTO member countries.
Such key part needs for legislative reforms in addition to financial and administrative reforms, al-Najar added, already Yemen has been carrying out general economic reforms since 1995 and a major component of these reforms have been in trade.
He mentioned some reforms taken place such as decrease the custom tariffs on imports.
Asked about expected disadvantages of the accession on the private sector, al-Najar said it is better for the national economy to allow real competition to take place which means more business.
He said that the private sector needs to step-up its act and learn to compete in international markets.
Prospective members of the WTO have to reach agreement with a group representing all current members and on a bilateral level with any member that requests it.
Yemen applied to join the WTO in 2000, and membership talks have picked up since 2005, especially in the last three years.
The WTO is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments.
The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business.