GENEVA, June 11. /TASS/. Kazakhstan has finalized negotiations on its WTO membership terms that have continued almost 20 years, the draft WTO Accession Package to be submitted to the WTO Working Party for formal approval on June 22.
It will then be submitted for the approval of the General Council, the WTO’s highest-level decision making body. "I congratulate WTO members and the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the historic step taken today," WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said. "I look forward to welcoming Kazakhstan to the WTO," he added.
Working Party members welcomed the conclusion of "one of the most challenging negotiations" in the 20-year history of the WTO. The chairperson of the Working Group, Finnish Ambassador Vesa Himanen, congratulated the head of the Kazakh delegation, Minister for Economic Integration Zhanar Aitzhanova, on "a historic achievement".
The WTO press service noted the complexity and uniqueness of the process of Kazakhstan’s entry, due to a need in negotiations on tariff adjustment because of Kazakhstan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, also including Armenia, Belarus and Russia.
Kazakhstan applied for WTO membership back on January 29, 1996.
Twenty one countries are currently continuing negotiations on WTO membership, including the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Belarus and Uzbekistan. Russia joined the organization in 2012.
The WTO, which regulates international trade, currently has 161 members.