The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
Articles

Afghanistan’s membership to WTO: A necessity or a misstep?

(Part I)

Abu Ragheb Amani

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has taken on this vital task and is endeavoring to create conditions for all countries to exchange goods and services in a fair environment and to maximize their interests and desirability by finding new methods, tools, and policies.

Nowadays, with the growth of economic, social, and political relations among countries, the exchange of goods and services has also increased. Since diversity in services and consumerism is one of the achievements of the modern era, meeting these needs cannot be solely the responsibility of one country. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has taken on this vital task and is endeavoring to create conditions for all countries to exchange goods and services in a fair environment and to maximize their interests and desirability by finding new methods, tools, and policies. Afghanistan began efforts to obtain membership in the organization in 2009, and finally, on December 18, 2015, it was accepted as the 164th member of the organization. Afghanistan aimed to address its trade issues by leveraging the benefits of this organization. In this article, I am seeking the answer to the following question: Is Afghanistan’s membership in this organization beneficial or detrimental? Before answering this question, I will touch upon some other points below, and finally, I will provide a brief conclusion. Afghanistan’s membership process to WTO The basis of the formation of the GATT agreement is the theory of comparative advantage, which is prominent in economics. It implies that countries with different productions, if they produce each product they specialize in and allow it to be exchanged among countries and engage in trade freely, will benefit both or several countries to the agreement. The second argument relates to the post-World War II devastations, where warring countries realized that increasing trade levels among themselves could elevate relative prosperity in these countries. The goals of GATT are outlined as follows: “Enhancing living standards, ensuring full employment and sustainable growth in real income and effective demand, maximizing the utilization of global resources, and increasing production and exchange of goods.” GATT is essentially an international framework whose main objective is to remove obstacles to free economic exchanges in goods, services, and other fields. Overall, the goal of GATT is to liberalize trade among member countries. In other words, GATT is a desirable world where political borders are not turned into economic barriers. Therefore, GATT is an international framework aimed at removing obstacles to the development of free trade among countries worldwide Secondly, the goal of GATT is to bring countries closer politically through expanding economic relations, thus reducing the likelihood of war, fostering cultural exchanges, and, in any case, politically, socially, and culturally limiting conflicts and confrontations. The WTO has provided a detailed report on the sevenstep process of Afghanistan’s permanent membership in the organization. Permanent membership of a country in the WTO involves a continuous negotiation process, which is different from the automatic joining process of other organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The WTO states: “As decisions in the accession working parties of member countries are made by consensus of all members of the working party, all members of an accession working party of a country must be assured that the country meets their requests in question and resolves outstanding issues in bilateral negotiations with that country.” Before commencing the process of permanent membership of a country in WTO, the country must first present a formal and written request for membership, and this request shall be discussed and examined in the General Council of the organization. Upon agreement of all members, the request shall be approved, and in other words, the country shall become an observer member of WTO. The WTO announced that Afghanistan had been accepted as an observer member of the organization and that the accession working party relevant to this country had been formed to proceed with Afghanistan’s accession process to the organization. It added: “Like other working parties, Afghanistan’s accession working party has a chairperson, who was selected after consultation with other members of the WTO from among its members other than Afghanistan.” This report marks the first stage of Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO out of the seven accession stages, presenting the country’s foreign trade regime note to the relevant accession working party. After reviewing all aspects of Afghanistan’s trade and legal system in the accession working party, the third stage, which is one of the most critical stages, begins. Afghanistan’s accession working party in the third stage focuses on the central part of the accession process, which is multilateral negotiations with members. In these negotiations, the terms and conditions of Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO are specified. These terms and conditions include commitments that Afghanistan must make regarding compliance with the rules of the WTO upon joining the organization. The fourth stage of Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO, which was carried out simultaneously with the third stage, involved bilateral negotiations between Afghanistan and each member of the working party regarding bilateral trade agreements. In this stage, Afghanistan reached agreements with each member of the working party regarding tariffs, trade commitments for goods and services, and access of the two countries to each other’s markets. The results of Afghanistan’s negotiations in the third and fourth stages consist of three separate documents that were finalized in the fifth stage with the approval of the members of the working party. The first document is a summary report of actions, descriptions of negotiations, and terms of Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO, which the working party prepared. The second document is an accession protocol, which includes the terms and conditions accepted by Afghanistan and other members of the working party for Afghanistan’s membership in the WTO, formulated in the multilateral negotiations of the working party. The third document is a bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and each working party member regarding tariffs, trade commitments for goods and services, and market access between the two countries. These three mentioned documents, as a set of accession documents, were finalized in the fifth stage at the final session of the working party with the ultimate approval of the working party members. The sixth stage, Afghanistan’s permanent membership in the WTO, involved presenting the working party’s final report to the General Council and approving this report at the General Council or Ministerial Conference. These steps ultimately led to Afghanistan’s membership in the WTO on December 18, 2015, increasing the organization’s membership to 164 countries. Countries accepted for membership in the WTO must accept the following nine principles: liberalization of foreign trade, liberalization of tariffs on goods and services and elimination of all direct subsidies, liberalization of interest rates, liberalization of exchange rates, elimination of government and private monopolies, free flow of information, optimal allocation of resources through the market, separation of economic and social provision, the establishment of a supervisory government instead of an interventionist government in politics and economics. Afghanistan’s multi-year negotiations to join the WTO have resulted in commitments and changes for the country. While these may initially seem restrictive and depart from nationalist positions, they present a valuable opportunity for aligning the country’s economy with international principles. To be Continued

Related posts

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.