Domestic Economy

Iran Ready for Accession

Iran Ready for AccessionIran Ready for Accession

Tehran sealed an accord with world powers in July, agreeing to limit parts of its nuclear program in return for an easing of western sanctions. The breakthrough, after more than a decade of deadlock, is prompting keen interest from foreign firms in striking business deals in Iran.

Joining the WTO would involve long and difficult negotiations, but Nematzadeh said Iran was already opening up its trade and investment regime and pursuing bilateral and regional integration with its trading partners.

“But regionalism was no substitute for the global system,” he said.

“Finalizing WTO membership is, therefore, a priority for the Iranian government. As the largest non-member economy in the world, our full membership will be win-win for all and a significant step towards creating a truly universal organization.”

  Slow Progress

Despite having some of the world’s biggest oil and gas reserves, Iran’s economic growth has been slowed by sanctions, low energy prices and high interest rates.

It first applied for WTO membership in July 1996, but progress has been glacial. The WTO only began to consider its membership in 2005 and Iran provided a file detailing its relevant laws and regulations four years later.

Nematzadeh said Iran has updated this file and is ready to submit it to the WTO, and for the first time it is prepared to enter into talks on lowering tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and services.

Countries seeking to join the WTO have to bring their own laws into line with WTO rules, but they also have to buy their way in by bargaining with existing members, who can push for concessions in sectors that interest them.

Joining the club would impose limits on Iran’s tariffs and commit it to be transparent about a wide range of policies that affect trade, such as subsidies, agricultural rules and rules for importing and exporting goods.

It would gain the right to bring trade disputes against other members of WTO and join negotiations on new trade rules, where every member has an effective veto.

Other large economies that are not WTO members include Ethiopia, Belarus, Algeria, Uzbekistan and Iraq.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Wednesday it was “not impossible” that the removal of sanctions against Iran could happen by the end of January.