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The winding road to WTO more difficult each day

8/6/ 2003

VietNamNet ? At the Moving towards WTO membership workshop on August 6, Demetrios J. Marantis, legal chief advisor of the Vietnam?US Trade Council said that Vietnam should accelerate its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) because the path will become increasingly difficult. In addition, after the Doha round, new conditions for WTO membership may be set.

In agreement with this opinion, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan said, ?For that purpose, we are urgently implementing measures to arrange domestic production while negotiating with partners on both a bilateral and multilateral basis. We don?t think that we should have to meet every condition set to join the WTO but these two requirements need to be conducted together, in both preparing conditions while promoting negotiation.?

According to David Hartridge, former acting general director of WTO, who is now high-ranking director of White&Case Geneva, Vietnam could accede to WTO membership according to plan.

Mr Khoan expressed the hope that the international community would support Vietnam?s WTO accession process by opening markets and avoiding sending the wrong signals about unhealthy competition.

Gary Benanav, Chairman cum General Director of New York Life International said that in becoming a WTO member, Vietnam will be find it easier to enter large markets.

Virginia Foote, Chairman of the Vietnam-US Trade Council, said if Vietnam joins the WTO in the near future, the country can conveniently export textile-garments to any market under the WTO after the Multi-fibre Arrangement is becomes void in 2005. Without quota restrictions, export of textile-garments to the European Union and the US may double, she said.

WTO members can use the organisations conflict resolution mechanisms, which can help Vietnam win in irregular suits such as the recent tra and basa fish debacle.

As a member of WTO, the global view of Vietnam could well improve. Vietnam has been viewed as a closed country for many years. In 1997, Vietnam ranked last among 53 countries in the global competitiveness report compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Its rank in 1999 was 55/59.

Joining the WTO could afford Vietnam deeper integration into the global economy and as a result its dependence on the health of the global economy is higher.

Vietnam?s WTO accession process

Vietnam filed its petition to join the WTO on January 4, 1995. Some 27 days later, the WTO established a working group on Vietnam?s WTO accession. Members of the working group are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, the EU, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Slovak, Slovenia, Switzerland?s, Taiwan, Thailand, the US and Uruguay.

The working group so far has held six meetings. The seventh will take place by the end of 2003.

Vietnam has entered into bilateral negotiations with many countries. Among those expressing their wish to hasten negotiations with Vietnam are the US, the EU, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, Uruguay, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and India.