The General Council of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has agreed to establish a working party to examine the request of the Syrian Arab Republic for WTO membership.
"Syria welcomed the decision as part of WTO's efforts "to promote international cooperation for trade and development," a WTO release said.
Syria said that it is convinced that "when the terms of our negotiations are completed and agreed, they would contribute to improve market access, strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system, and contributing both to global welfare and the welfare of the people of Syria".
Chairman of the general council Amb. John Gero, invited Syria to attend meetings of the council and, as appropriate, meetings of other WTO bodies as an observer.
Any state or customs territory having full autonomy in the conduct of its trade policies may become a member (accede to) the WTO, but all WTO members must agree on the terms. This is done through the establishment of a working party of WTO members and through a process of negotiations.
WTO has a current membership of 153 nations and the general council decision raises the number of WTO accession working parties to 30.
The other nations that are in negotiations or are awaiting WTO membership include: Algeria, the Russian Federation, Belarus, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Samoa, Andorra, Lebanese Republic, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bhutan, Yemen, Bahamas, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Montenegro, Iran, Sao Tomé and Principe, Union of the Comoros, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia.
Vanuatu concluded negotiations in 2001 but its government did not take any further action and the package has not submitted the package to the general council.