Economy, Domestic Economy

Bid to Join WTO Questioned

Bid to Join WTO QuestionedBid to Join WTO Questioned

The director of the Iranian World Trade Center has criticezed government efforts to join the World Trade Organization, arguing that the decision cannot be a good idea given the unsatisfactory economic conditions.

The attempt to join the WTO has to be approved by 152 member countries “while Iran is yet to solve its problems with regional and world nations” as a precondition to have trade with the rest of the globe, ILNAS quoted Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour as saying on Sunday.

“As long as Iran’s standoff with the world persists it can achieve nothing” by submitting its bid for accession to the global organization, he added, referring to the country’s dispute with the West over its nuclear energy program.

During the tenure of the former president Mohammad Khatami, the WTO accepted Iran to become an observer member. However, the country’s membership was annulled by the organization during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s term.

The WTO, which was established in 1995, is an international organization that aims to facilitate trade between its member countries. It has 160 members now, of which 117 are developing nations or separate customs territories.

The WTO’s activities are supported by a secretariat of 700 staff members based in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization has an annual budget of approximately $180 million.

Iran has, since past 18 years, attempted to join the WTO, a move that is expected to bring numerous business opportunities for Iran and open its trade with the rest of the world. There are, however, a number of barriers that have made Iran’s accession impossible, including opposition from some political groups at home and a lengthy standoff with the US and EU over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran’s Deputy Industry Minister Valiollah Afkhamirad recently said that the removal of political barriers would facilitate the process to join the WTO.

But critics, including Sabzalipour, argue that as Iran mainly exports oil and its products, the domestic non-oil production is unable to compete with cheap imports if Iran joins the WTO and cuts import tariffs.