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Viet Nam should speed up institutional and trade policy reforms to join the WTO

Vietnam Economic Times, 9 April 2004

 

To be a WTO member is becoming more and more important for Vietnam, not only politically but also for economic and trade reasons.  I do not determine which country joins the WTO.  That decision remains at the discretion of the applying country and the WTO members. In other words, joining depends on two issues. The first is WTO rules. The second is the applicantís efforts in implementing its commitments. Now all WTO members would like to see Vietnam join the WTO and speed up this process. Mr. Rufus Yerxa, WTO Deputy Director General, said in a press conference on 6/4 in Ha Noi.

By Ha Linh

 

Please let us know the result of your discussions with the Vietnamese negotiating team and some high-ranking officials?

I think that we understood each other. The issues that we discussed were not raised by us but by WTO members. Both sides have agreed on the most difficult hurdle, i.e. the political willingness for joining the WTO. Government officials shared the same view of speeding up the negotiation. What Vietnamese negotiators should do now is to complete its next package of proposals as well as to prove that Vietnam is able to fully implement the commitments to 147 WTO member countries.

In your view, what should Vietnam do to accelerate the negotiation for accession to the WTO?

Vietnam should speed up its institutional and trade policy reform to comply with WTO rules and seek support from relevant countries. Vietnam also needs to fully understand the issues that it has to deal with.

 

Currently, there is a tendency to impose new regulations on new members while the old members still enjoy the current set of rules, so do you think that is fair or not?

The majority of the current WTO members are developing countries. In legal terms, all WTO members are equal.  However, several developing countries that want to join the WTO may be required to undertake more changes and face more difficulties. But Vietnam could benefit from the special treatment designed for developing countries.

 

Will Vietnamís accession to the WTO increase the gap between the rich and the poor? What is your view on this?

This is an issue that all WTO members have to deal with.  The WTO itself does not have the power to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor but provides opportunities to achieve these objectives.

 

What is your message to the Government of Vietnam?

The fact shows that Vietnam has done a lot to become a member of the WTO but several issues still need further efforts.  The Vietnamese Government should do more to clarify how it is going to reform its laws to comply with WTO rules and how it is going to fully implement the commitments.