World Trade Organization (WTO)
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations.
The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 123 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948.
Whereas the GATT mainly dealt with trade in goods, the WTO and its agreements also cover trade in services and intellectual property. The birth of the WTO also created new procedures for the settlement of disputes.
Currently the WTO's membership has expanded to 164 members, representing over 98% of international trade.
The Ministerial Conference is the highest decision-making body of the WTO and usually meets every two years. The WTO's first Ministerial Conference was held in Singapore in December 1996. Its most recent — the 11th — was held in Buenos Aires in December 2017. The 12th Ministerial Conference is planned to be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in 2020.
THE ACCESSION OF AZERBAIJAN TO WTO
Azerbaijan applied for WTO membership in June 1997 based on the letter of request for accession signed by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated 23 June 1997.
Working Party on the accession of Azerbaijan was created on 16 July 1997.
The Chair of the Working Party: Ambassador Walter Werner (Germany).
The Working Party consists of 42 Members.
Chief Negotiator of Azerbaijan: Mr. Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Since 1997 Azerbaijan had submitted roughly 400 documents, including over 300 pieces of legislation, to the working party, and responded to over 2,000 questions posed by members.
Multilateral negotiations, being the one of the most important points in acceleration of accession process of Azerbaijan to the WTO have been continued. The first session of the Working Party on Azerbaijan was held in 2002 in Geneva. Such sessions of the Working Party on Azerbaijan have been held consecutively since 2004.
The latest 14th Meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Azerbaijan took place on 28 July 2017.
At the same time Azerbaijan conducts Plurilateral meetings on Agriculture regularly. The latest Plurilateral meeting on Agriculture was organized on 27 July 2017.
For the meeting necessary document, including consolidated version of replies on questions received from Members, as well as revised Supporting Tables for 2014-2016 were prepared and submitted to the WTO Secretariat for circulation.
Bilateral negotiations are ongoing. Currently, Azerbaijan is conducting bilateral negotiations on goods and services with 21 Members.
As a result of the negotiations 5 bilateral agreements were signed. The first agreement was signed with Turkey and others with Oman, UAE, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
The latest round of bilateral negotiations was held in December 2018.
Bringing the national legislation into conformity with WTO requirements
For the purpose of bringing the national legislation into conformity with WTO requirements a Decree of the President of Azerbaijan No 1583 of 2 August 2006 was signed and in compliance with this document drafts of more than 30 legislative acts were planned to prepare. About 20 of these normative-legal acts were adopted and entered into force.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE ACCESSION PROCESS
Sessions of the WTO Working Party on the accession of Azerbaijan
First Session: 07.06.2002, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Second Session: 12-15 October 2004, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Third Session: 27 June 27 – 1 July 2005, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Fourth Session: 30 March 2006, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Fifth Session: 6 May 2008, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Sixth Session: 11 December 2008, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Seventh Session: 24 July 2009, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Eight Session: 18 October 2010, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Ninth Session: 24 February 2012, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Tenth Session: 7 December 2012, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Eleventh Session: 17-21 February, 2014, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Twelfth session: 3-6 March 2015, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Thirteenth session: 20-22 July 2016, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
Fourteenth session: 24-28 July 2017, Geneva, WTO Secretariat
The delegation of Azerbaijan attended the WTO Committee on Agriculture and Symposium on Agriculture in June 2019.
Several expert level bilateral meetings and consultations were held within the framework of the visit on 24-28 June, 2019.
Other meetings and events
Ambassador Walter Werner (Germany), the Chairperson of the Working Party, visited Baku on 27–28 June. Accompanied by the WTO Secretariat, he held a series of high-level meetings, including with: (i) Mr. Shahin Mustafayev, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Commission on Preparation for WTO Accession; (ii) Mr. Rufat Mammadov, the newly appointed Deputy Minister of Economy; (iii) Mr. Mahmud Mammad-Guliyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief Negotiator for WTO Accession; and (iv) Mr. Ziyad Samadzadeh, Chairman of the Economic Policy Committee of Milli Majlis (Parliament).
The WTO delegation also visited the Azerbaijan State University of Economics, meeting with the University's Rector, Professor Adalat Muradov. During the meeting, it was agreed to explore the University's interest to establish academic collaboration with the WTO.
Conference on the "Integration of Azerbaijan into the World Trade System: Opportunities for Development of Production in the Non-Oil Export Diversification", 8 June, Baku The WTO Secretariat participated in the conference that served to launch a two-year EU-funded project to support the Ministry of Economy in WTO accession negotiations.