The World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence in 1995 with 123 “original members”. Since then, the WTO has acquired 36 new members who are said to have “acceded” to the organization.
Accession is a process that requires aspiring members to submit documentation on the laws and practices of their existing trade regime for the purpose of reviewing their consistency with WTO rules. Acceding governments put together a Legislative Action Plan (LAP) detailing legislative changes necessary to come into compliance with WTO rules, which also enables other WTO members to comment before the arduous domestic process of changing laws and regulations.
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The WTO’s Accessions Intelligence Portal contains a bevy of information on the accession process, the status of more than twenty governments in the process of becoming a WTO member, technical assistance activities, and other resources.
Particularly useful tools include the WTO Accession Map for a graphic depiction of current members and those that acceded since 1995. Slide the accession time bar to watch the process unfold. Dig deeper into the Legislative Action Plan. Register to see how governments reformed their regimes to come into compliance with WTO rules. Member reports on implementation can be found in the Accession Commitments Database, and the WTO provides a handy reference chart with links to official accession documents.
Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.