Yemen negotiates with WTO [Archives:2004/797/Business & Economy]

December 9 2004

The Yemeni team negotiating with the WTO held its first round of talks with the organization in Geneva in preparation for Yemen's accession to the world body. Yemen hopes to join the organization to gain commercial benefits.
The talks were headed by Yemeni Minister of Industry and Trade, Dr. Khalid Rajih Sheikh, who conveyed to the meeting the government's efforts to reform the economy and its determination to encourage further foreign investments.
Some businesspeople close to chambers of industry and commerce in Yemen, have blamed the Yemeni government for not allowing them to participate in the negotiating round, and underline some potential negative impacts of Yemeni membership in the WTO.
Despite some possible negative repercussions, globalization and the technical revolution have made Yemeni accession to the World Bank a necessity. Unlike the pessimism shown by some businesspeople, government sources say membership in the WTO may help to establish an international umbrella to protect the country's economic interests against regional cooperation among other WTO members.
The government hopes to steer investment to production for export, rather than for local consumption. Joining the organization would help provide a better climate for exports.
An increase in Yemen's credibility with foreign investors is another tangible benefit of membership, as is the possibility of increasing trade among Arab members of the WTO. With the pledge to open borders and remove trade barriers, Arab trade activity can be improved.
The WTO is the successor of the General Agreement of Tariff and Trade (GATT) that was established after the Second World War. The WTO has more than 140 members representing more than 90 per cent of world trade. Thirty other states are negotiating for membership in the organization. The organization's essential tasks are to manage agreements related to trade, act as a forum for trade negotiations, settle disputes pertaining to trade, revise national policies related to trade, and to help developing countries with technical assistance and training programs.
Yemen's progress in its trade and investment policies has brought the country to a stage where most of their policies are in line with requirements of the WTO.