Discussion highlights Arab views on joining the WTO at China Round Table 12

The upcoming 12th China Round Table (CRT-12) scheduled for February 24-25, 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is a significant event set to make history as the first Round Table organized in the Arab region. This milestone gathering will coincide with the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13).

The Arab region, despite its cultural and economic importance, faces under-representation in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Out of the 22 members of the Arab League, only 13 are WTO Members, while several others are in the process of accession. The main aim of the 12th CRT is to address this gap and explore strategies to enhance Arab participation in the global trading system.

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala emphasized the need to support Arab governments in the accession process. She highlighted the importance of joint efforts to assist Arab countries, especially those, like Comoros, expected to engage more with the WTO. One proposed action is to create a study outlining the accession and post-accession experiences of Article XII members in the region to guide Arab countries in their accession negotiations.

The agenda of CRT-12 aligns with the Trade for Peace initiative, focusing on how WTO accession reforms can boost economic resilience and contribute to peace in Arab nations. The discussions will center on using trade as a tool for economic development and fostering harmony within the region.

Drawing from the expertise and experiences of current WTO and Article XII Arab Members, CRT-12 aims to provide valuable insights to Arab acceding governments. Discussions will include forthcoming publications and a session with Arab Trade ministers to enrich the dialogue on Arab perspectives on WTO accessions and the multilateral trading system.

Since its establishment in 2012, the China Round Table has been a crucial platform for dialogue and collaboration on WTO accessions. Through ten successful editions held worldwide, the CRT continues to facilitate knowledge-sharing and capacity-building initiatives, supporting the integration of new Members into the rules-based global trading system.

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