World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) officially commenced on 1 January 1995, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which commenced in 1948. The WTO is called upon to regulate trade relations between participating countries on the basis of the Uruguay Round Multilateral Trade Agreements Negotiations (1986-1994).

The fundamental principles and rules of the GATT / WTO are as follows: trade without discrimination i.e. mutual provision of the most-favored-nation treatment (MFN) regime in trade and mutual provision of the national treatment to goods and services of foreign origin; regulation of trade mainly by tariff means; refraining from the use of quantitative and other restrictions; transparency of trade policy; resolution of trade disputes through consultations and negotiations. An integral part of the WTO is the dispute settlement mechanism.

The main functions of the WTO: to oversee the implementation of the agreements and arrangements of the Uruguay Round Package; to conduct multilateral trade negotiations and consultations among interested Members; to resolve trade disputes; to carry out the monitoring of national trade policies of the WTO Members; to provide technical assistance to developing countries on issues related to the competence of the WTO; to cooperate with international specialized organizations.

The WTO has 164 members, accounting for about 96% of world trade. Decisions are made by the entire membership, normally by consensus. A majority vote is also possible but it has never been used in the WTO. The WTO's top level decision-making body is the Ministerial Conference which meets at least once every two years. Below it is the General Council, which meets several times a year in the Geneva. The General Council also meets as the Trade Policy Review Body and the Dispute Settlement Body. At the next level there are the Goods Council, Services Council and Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Council, which report to the General Council. Further below there are numerous specialized committees, working groups and working parties deal with the individual agreements and other areas such as the environment, development, membership applications and regional trade agreements.

Kazakhstan sent a formal application for accession to the WTO Secretariat on 26 January 1996. In February 1996, Kazakhstan was granted observer status in the WTO. In the same year, the Working Group on Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO was established, which included 52 WTO members at the time of completion of the accession negotiations.

In 2012 Kazakhstan concluded bilateral negotiations on the goods access market with 31 WTO members and on the services market with 15 WTO members. The results of bilateral negotiations were consolidated and reflected in the Schedule of Concessions and Commitments on Goods and in the Schedule of Specific Commitments on Services, respectively. In 2015 the verification of the Schedules was completed.

On June 22, 2015 during the 20th formal meeting of the Working Group a package of documents reflecting the terms of Kazakhstan's WTO membership was adopted.

On July 27, 2015 during the WTO General Council meeting a package of Kazakhstan's WTO accession documents was adopted by all Members of the Organization and the signing ceremony of the Protocol on Kazakhstan's accession to the WTO was convened with participation of the Head of State of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev.

On November 30, 2015 Kazakhstan became the 162nd member of the WTO, after ratifying the package of commitments in the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan, signing the Instrument of Acceptance and its deposition with the WTO Secretariat on November 1, 2015.

During 15-18 December 2015, Kazakhstan participated in the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference as a full-fledged member of the Organization, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya.

On May 26, 2016, the WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo paid an official visit to Astana and took part in the IX Astana Economic Forum. Within the framework of the visit, R. Azevedo had a bilateral meeting with President of Kazakhstan N.Nazarbayev, during which the WTO Director General was awarded the Order "Dostyk" of the second degree for his contribution to strengthening of friendship and establishment of cooperation. During a meeting with the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan K. Masimov Kazakhstan's Instrument of Acceptance for the ratification of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation R. was handed to R. Azevedo.

On October 19, 2016 Kazakhstan was granted an observer status in the WTO Committee on Government Procurement.

As a WTO member Kazakhstan has joined the negotiating Group of Article XII Members of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization and the regional Asian Group of Developing Countries.

Kazakhstan complies with its obligations within its membership in the WTO, promptly sends the necessary notifications to the Secretariat and is actively involved in the work of various committees of the Organization. Currently preparations are underway for the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, scheduled for December 11-14 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Created at : 3.04.2017, 11:00, Updated at : 3.04.2017, 11:00