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Syrian Accession to the WTO
 

Accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO): Options for Syria”: this is the topic of the seminar delivered on 20 October 2004 at the National Agricultural Policy Center (NAPC) by Dr Don Mc Clatchy, international expert from New Zealand, recruited under the Italian funded Project GCP/SYR/006/ITA executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The audience, composed of national and international attendants and including representatives of the MAAR and other Syrian Ministries and institutions as well as representatives of the Italian embassy, ICARDA, FAO and other stakeholders, actively participated in the forum by asking questions and offering cues for debate.

The seminar covered the possible options concerning agriculture-related negotiations for WTO accession, as well as the required adjustments that might be required for domestic policies.

According to the expert, Syria will not have to make major changes to its existing agro-food policies, programs, and institutions as result of a potential accession to the Organization but rather to adjust some of them. It appears that the agricultural policy changes to be made in order to comply with WTO regulations will be few and limited to specific areas. Furthermore, the changes required are generally in line with the direction of Syria’s steady economic reform program towards a more trade-oriented, open economy, which has been in place now for many years. He made a distinction between the minimal policy changes that will be necessary, in order to satisfy WTO member countries, and further optional but desirable steps which Syria should take, in order to fully exploit the benefits generated by WTO membership.

Dr McClatchy argued that preparatory efforts now - to anticipate the demands that will be placed on Syria in the accession negotiations, to consider possible responses to those demands, and to identify preferred options for policy adjustments to accommodate those demands, where necessary - will strengthen the hand of Syria’s negotiators later. Supported by five NAPC technical staff members, he is currently gathering and preparing further relevant information in order to assist the country in following up its request of accession to the WTO.

During the debate H.E. M.Taher, FAO Representative in Syria, confirmed the willingness of the Organization to provide all the support needed to contribute to the Syrian accession to the WTO. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - he stated - is already assisting Syria through the current FAO Project GCP/SYR/006/ITA that recruited Dr Mc Clatchy and organized the forum in order to inform all stakeholders on options to enhance Syria’s negotiating capacity. Another initiative promoted by FAO was the organization of a Regional Workshop on Syrian accession to the WTO that was held in Damascus from 28 November to 2 December 2004: on this occasion representatives of all the Near East region exchanged views benefiting from the experience of those countries which are currently WTO members.

Dr Mc Clatchy agreed with a suggestion from the audience that the recently completed EU-Association Agreement provides a useful precedent and should facilitate the WTO accession negotiations.
Download:

Proceedings of this seminar (PDF 191 KB) 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
     

 

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Last update: 24.05.2004