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    WTO Membership to Strengthen Afghanistan's Institutions, Infrastructure

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    WTO membership is expected to boost Afghanistan's economic growth and help address transit issues.

    NAIROBI, December 17 (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — Membership of the World Trade Organization is expected to boost Afghanistan's institutions and infrastructure, Mozammil Shinwari, the country’s deputy minister of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, told Sputnik Thursday.

    "Technical assistance and support [from WTO] will help us in reforming our internal institutions and developing our infrastructure," Shinwari, who heads Afghanistan’s delegation to the WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10), said ahead of his country’s formal accession to the organization, later on Thursday.

    According to Shinwari, the most important thing about Afghanistan's WTO membership is that the country will become part of the global trading system.

    "So we are very hopeful about our accession to the WTO," he added.

    Afghanistan became the 164th WTO member, after Liberia who acceded to the bloc on Wednesday, bringing the number of least developed countries (LDCs) that have joined the trade organization since 1995 to nine.

    Accession of Afghanistan, Liberia Improves WTO Image

    The accession of Afghanistan, Liberia, two nations from the least developed countries (LDCs) list, to the World Trade Organization (WTO) improves the bloc’s image, Mozammil Shinwari, a deputy minister of trade in the Afghan Ministry of Commerce, told Sputnik Thursday.

    "The two real things coming out from [this] ministerial are the accessions of Liberia and Afghanistan. This is a tangible result. Because in general, the WTO system was mostly considered as dominated by the developed world. Now the number of LDCs in the WTO will allow them to have an impact on the global trading system," Shinwari, who heads Afghanistan’s delegation to WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10), said ahead of his country’s formal accession to the organization later Thursday.

    Liberia became a WTO member on Wednesday, increasing the trade organization’s number of LDC members to 35. Afghanistan is due to become the 36th.

    Afghanistan first applied for WTO membership in 2004 and completed its accession negotiations in 2015. Liberia applied in 2007, also concluding its negotiations in 2015.

    Shinwari stressed that WTO membership will improve the country image, thus making Afghanistan more attractive to investors.

    Afghanistan Seeks Better Image, More Investments From WTO Membership

    Becoming a World Trade Organization (WTO) member will help Afghanistan to improve its image in the eyes of the global trade community and thus attract new investors, which the country urgently needs, Mozammil Shinwari, the country’s deputy minister of commerce and industries, told Sputnik Thursday.

    "There are several reasons as to why we are coming to the WTO. First, we need international credibility. Second, it will help us to attract investment," Shinwari, who heads Afghanistan’s delegation to the 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10), said ahead of his country’s official accession to the WTO later in Thursday.

    Afghanistan has potential for investment, Shinwari said, emphasizing that the country enjoys preferential trade regimes with most of the world. With raw materials and cheap labor, Afghanistan now requires international credibility to attract investors, he added.  

    Afghanistan first applied for WTO membership in 2004, completing its accession negotiations in 2015, with the accession package adopted on November 11. The WTO is a trade-regulating intergovernmental organization, with a membership comprising of most of the countries of the world.

    WTO Membership to Help Afghanistan Solve Transit Issues With Neighbors

    Membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) will help Afghanistan solve long-standing transit issues with its neighboring countries, Mozammil Shinwari, the country’s deputy minister of trade of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries told Sputnik Thursday.

    "We are facing a lot of problems related to transit with our neighboring countries. Trade will help us address transit issues in the long term, we will discuss it with our neighbors," Shinwari, who heads Afghanistan’s delegation to the WTO 10th Ministerial Conference (MC10), said.

    "Once we become a WTO member, we will be able to enjoy freedom of transit," he added.

    WTO's MC10 has placed an increased focus on the least developed countries (LDCs), underscored by its welcoming two new members from LDCs — Afghanistan and Liberia.

    The decisions on the two countries' accession were made by WTO members in October and November, respectively.

    WTO Membership to Help Afghanistan Bargain With Non-WTO Neighbors

    Membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will give Afghanistan an opportunity to exercise influence over its non-WTO neighboring states and use it as leverage in seeking trade preferences, Afghan Deputy Minister of Trade of the Ministry Commerce and Industries Mozammil Shinwari, told Sputnik Thursday.

    Shinwari is heading Afghanistan's delegation to the WTO's four-day 10th Ministerial Conference that is currently underway in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

    "We will become part of the WTO before other countries in the region. It will give us an upper hand. We will be negotiating with them and asking for favorable conditions for our export," Shinwari said.

    Shinwari noted that Iran, as well Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, are not WTO members. According to him, it gives Afghanistan an advantage over these countries when negotiating issues such as problems related to transit, import and export.

    "WTO is based on a consensus, every member has a say [in approving the accession of a new member]. So, to secure our approval, they will have to give us some concessions," Shinwari stressed.

    Afghanistan is becoming a new WTO member later on Thursday. The ceremony of accession takes place at the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi.

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