Vietnam’s WTO entry within reach

Vietnam has huge potential to join the World Trade Organization by the end of this year, Vietnamese and foreign trade representatives said after a recent unofficial round of multilateral talks.
“WTO accession by the end of this year is within reach,” said Hoang Phuoc Hiep, a Vietnamese negotiator, who has just returned to Hanoi from Geneva after unofficial multilateral talks.

“After unofficial talks, I think Vietnam has a good chance to join the WTO in December this year if the country can complete bilateral negotiations before September,” he said.

Norwegian Ambassador to the WTO Eirik Glenne, cum new chairman of the WTO Working Party for Vietnam accession had the same opinion.

Obviously, things are speeding up, and Vietnam is making marked progress, he said.

If Vietnam can complete bilateral negotiations earlier, it will be able to become a WTO member by year-end, Mr. Glenne said.

Marathon run

Vietnam is going to complete bilateral negotiations with eight trade partners in mid-June, according to Mr. Hiep.

In the next few weeks, the country will conduct talks with major partners like the US, Japan, China, and Canada.

Bilateral negotiations have produced positive results, and Vietnam will likely complete two-way talks before the 10th round of multilateral negotiations, which is set to begin in September, observers said.

If Vietnam could make it, then it will be fully able to enter the Geneva-based global trade organization at the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong this December, observers said.

“Vietnam’s WTO entry talks can be seen as a marathon run,” Mr. Hiep said, “Now we are in the last kilometer, we need effective strategies to make it.”

However, he said in a marathon, even the event favorite could have trouble finishing.

New commitments

During unofficial talks, Vietnam has pledged eight new commitments, including the abolition of discriminatory treatment on imported motorbikes and beer.

Commitments also include the removal of restrictions over several sensitive products like petrochemicals, drugs, sugar, tobacco, rice, salt, fertilizer and cultural goods.

These commitments are in line with WTO standards and requirements, according to Vietnamese Deputy Trade Minister Luong Van Tu.

During unofficial talks, Vietnam has also announced its legislative body, the National Assembly, is working on legal documents over WTO membership, which are due to be approved in late 2005.

Vietnam will amend and build new laws in case the WTO requirements surpass the country’s legal system.

So far, the country has opened up 10 services sectors and 92 services.

During unofficial talks, all trade partners have expressed support to Vietnam’s bid to join the WTO by year-end.

The Working Party has told Vietnam to send all proposed laws the government has submitted to the National Assembly before September, which they described as an unbiased requirement that leads to completion of the country’s WTO multilateral talks.

Reported by Xuan Danh – Translated by Hieu Trung.
Story from Thanh Nien News
Published: 24 May, 2005, 20:50:57 (GMT+7)
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