WTO Accession Process


WTO Accession Process

Application for Accession

Communication to WTO

Director General

General Council

Establishment of a

Working Party

Information to be provided on Policy

Measures affecting trade in services WTO

Secretariat WT/ACC/5

Submission of the Memorandum on Foreign Trade Regime Questions by WTO members, answers by applicant

Market access on

Goods Track

Multilateral Track

Examination of foreign trade regime’ compatibility with WTO


Schedule of concessions in goods

Report of the Working Party, a draft decision and Protocol of


General Council /

Ministerial Conference adoption of the report and approval of the draft decision

Market access on Services


Schedule of Specific

Commitments on services

Acceptance of the Protocol of Accession by the applicant

Market access Track in services


: adoption of commitments on trade in services by the acceding country. Commitments on Market Access and National Treatment in the sense of Articles XVI and XVII, and also Additional Commitments under Article



: bilateral negotiations with interested WTO members resulting in a draft Schedule of Specific Commitments formatted in accordance with the

Guidelines for Scheduling Specific Commitments under the GATS (WTO

S/L/92, 28 March 2001).

For this process either interested members submit requests and the acceding country then tables its draft Schedule of Specific Commitments, or the tabling of a draft Schedule by the applicant is followed by requests from interested members.

Bilateral negotiations continue until interested Members are satisfied with the specific commitments adopted by the acceding country.


: After the conclusion of bilateral negotiations, the Schedule of Specific

Commitments to the GATS is reviewed multilaterally in the Working Party. The

Schedule of Specific Commitments of the acceding country is annexed to the

Protocol of Accession as integral part. These commitments will be extended to all

WTO members on the basis of MFN Treatment

Entering into force

: The Working party submits its Report, together with the draft Decision and Protocol of Accession to the WTO General Council/Ministerial

Conference. Following the adoption of the Report of the Working Party, that is in practice adopted on the basis of consensus and not through the two-thirds majority vote rule, the Protocol of Accession enters into force 30 days after acceptance by the applicant and becomes a WTO Member.

Schedule of Specific Commitments of country X



Limitations on market access

Article XVI

Limitations on national treatment

Article XVII

Mode 1

Mode 2

Mode 3

Mode 4

Mode 1

Mode 2

Mode 3

Mode 4



Mode 1

Mode 2

Mode 3

Mode 4

Mode 1

Mode 2

Mode 3

Mode 4



Article XVIII

Issues to be considered by acceding countries

• The GATS provides the framework, but not the mechanism for effective implementation for special and differential treatment for developing countries.

Developmental objectives are incorporated in Article IV and Article XIX provides the necessary flexibility for making commitments in accordance with developmental needs. SDT should be reflected in the result of negotiations undertaken by Members. Acceding countries should seek receiving similar treatment as other developing or LDC countries. This is not assured in accession negotiations

• LDC acceding countries should assure that the agreements and pledges made to facilitate their accession in more effective and less onerous terms and tailored to their specific economic conditions are fully implemented by major trading partners

• Recently acceding countries have been subjected to strong pressures for adopting deep liberalization commitments on services. As a result on the average new acceded countries have made significantly more and deeper specific commitments on services that LDC and developing country Members.

The scope of specific commitments adopted by acceding countries has continuously enlarged through time. It could be expected that this trend would continue in the future placing strong demands on countries currently in the accession process

• Acceding countries should seek linking development with market access negotiations in services, with the view of promoting the development of the services infrastructure and services industres with social and cultural contents.

Also, they should retain the necessary flexibility for policy discretion. For these objectives they should seek longer periods of transition, assistance for supporting supply capacity building, and when possible attaching conditions when granting market access to foreign services suppliers. These objectives should be sought in the bilateral negotiations with the major trading partners.

• Closely following current negotiations on services in the WTO, both the request-offer process and work in the subsidiary bodies to the Council for Trade in Services, is crucial for countries in the process of accession. The evaluation of negotiations would provide important insights and inputs for their own negotiations in the market access on services track. Also, those countries whose accession Working Party has been established should seriously evaluate participating in the current negotiations on services as provided by the Decision adopted by the General Council openng participation for these countries

• The interface between accession negotiations and other trade initiatives, as bilateral trade agreements and participation in integration agreements, should be seriously analysed by acceding countries because of possible implications for the terms of their own accession to the WTO.