In a significant milestone for global trade, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) reached a consensus on January 9, 2024, regarding the terms of Comoros' WTO membership. The agreement, achieved ad referendum, marks a crucial step toward the formal adoption of Comoros as the newest member of the organization. This achievement positions Comoros as the least-developed country (LDC) set to join the WTO.
The culmination of the Working Party's mandate means that the accession package for Comoros will be presented to ministers for formal decision at the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi from February 26 to 29. The formal adoption at MC13 would underscore the successful completion of the technical work required for Comoros' accession.
WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala conveyed her congratulations to Comoros, recognizing the nation's determination and efforts throughout the lengthy accession process. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the importance of LDCs joining the WTO, especially given the significant gap since the last Working Party's mandate concluded, which was the accession of Afghanistan over eight years ago.
Comoros, as a future WTO member, brings considerable value to the organization. Apart from being a member of the African Union, the nation is part of both the Francophonie and the Arab League. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the symbolic importance of welcoming Comoros as a new member at MC13 in the United Arab Emirates.
She acknowledged the challenges that come with WTO membership, assuring Comoros of the WTO Secretariat's support during the critical early post-accession phase and beyond. Director-General Okonjo-Iweala urged the international community to expedite accession processes, considering that 22 countries currently seek to accede to the WTO.
Kamaldini Souef, Minister for Post, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy, and Head of the Delegation of Comoros, emphasized that WTO accession is not an endpoint but the beginning of a more ambitious project. He highlighted Comoros' commitment to modernize financial management in alignment with WTO commitments, making it a potent tool for development. Souef sought technical and financial support from bilateral and multilateral partners to leverage WTO accession for broader developmental goals, aiming to position Comoros as an emerging country by 2030.
Ambassador Omar Zniber of Morocco, the Working Party Chair, commended Comoros for successfully navigating the lengthy and complex accession process. He conveyed the congratulations of the entire WTO membership and highlighted MC13 as an opportunity for Comoros to present its post-accession strategy.
WTO members praised Comoros' dedication and systematic approach, illustrating how persistent efforts and political will can lead to a successful conclusion in the challenging process of WTO accession. The pending formal adoption at MC13 is anticipated to further integrate Comoros into the multilateral trading system, emphasizing the inclusivity and collaborative spirit of the WTO.