Geneva: Yemen’s 13 year pursuit of a seat at the World Trade Organisation is set to end successfully this month, making its entry into the global trade club a formality early next year.
According to an agenda circulated to WTO members this week and seen by Reuters on Friday, the WTO working party on Yemen’s accession will meet on September 26 “with a view to adopting” the key documents setting out its membership terms.
The arrangement will be rubber-stamped by the full WTO membership and then again at a ministerial meeting in December, opening a three month window for Yemen to ratify it.
WTO officials say the deal was made possible after Ukraine agreed terms for Yemen’s membership, effectively withdrawing a veto that had been the only obstacle for more than a year.
All other WTO members have signalled they are ready for Yemen to join, and many had privately said they were mystified by Ukraine’s objections, since it had negligible trade links with Yemen.
Yemen first applied to join the WTO in April 2000 and will become its 160th member.
Its accession will be a boost for a country that is struggling to recover from the turmoil brought by pro-democracy protests in 2011, which forced the president to step aside, took the country to the brink of civil war and dealt a blow to its already dismal economy.
Its addition to the global trading club will bring an early boost to Roberto Azevedo, the new head of the WTO, which is struggling to retain its credibility as the global forum for trade negotiations after 12 years of stalemate.
Being part of the Geneva-based body, whose members are bound to keep to the global trading rules, may help shore up confidence in its impoverished economy.
Oil and gas
Yemen, a US ally, relies on oil and gas exports for most of its foreign currency earnings. But frequent attacks on oil installations such as its main pipeline, which was blown up on Sunday, deprive the government of vital revenue.
Neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, provided a $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) loan to beef up Yemen’s central bank reserves last year but other foreign aid out of $7.9 billion pledged by donors in 2012 has been slow to arrive.