WTO Accession: Lessons from Experience
Trade Note - Introduction Since its creation in 1995, twenty new Members have acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO). On 13 October 2004, Cambodia became the WTO's 148th member, almost 10 years after it had first applied and just over a year after its membership package was approved at the Cancún Ministerial Conference. Cambodia is the second least-developed country (LDC) to join the WTO, following Nepal's accession on 23 April 2004. Countries applying for WTO membership face a complex and, in most cases, long process. Some applications date back to the late 1980s (e.g., Algeria) or early 1990s (e.g., Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Saudi Arabia). Applicants often need to implement substantive reforms to align their domestic institutions and policies with WTO disciplines. Most developing countries lack the capacity to engage effectively in these negotiations due to the absence of trained personnel, not to mention institutional and financial constraints. It is worth noting that currently roughly one-third of the 30 governments in the process of accession represent LDCs.
The World Bank Group, International Trade Department