Canada requests basis in connection with Azerbaijan's entry to WTO as developing country

Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug.10 / Trend I.Khalilova /

The Azerbaijani government is preparing a substantiation for Canada regarding the plans of the country's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the status of a developing country, head of the negotiating group, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev said.

"Canada has sought justification in connection with our country's desire concerning entry into WTO as a developing country," Mammadguliyev said. "We intend to maintain this position to keep favorable conditions for the development of the agricultural sector in the country, as a developing country in the WTO, the country will able to provide greater financial support for the agrarian sphere, and to maintain subsidies at 10 percent of GDP produced in agriculture."

It is difficult for Azerbaijan to regain this position, because "all ex-Soviet countries were admitted to WTO as the developed countries, respectively, above all, this stereotype needs to be reversed.

In negotiations, Azerbaijan seeks to enter WTO with the status of a developing country, which will allow the country to provide greater financial support to the agricultural sector, as in this case, the country will be able to keep subsidizing at the level of 10 percent of GDP produced in agriculture. At present, subsidies to the agricultural sector of Azerbaijan are on average of 14-15 percent, taking into account tax benefits.

WTO members offer tariff reductions on agriculture, but the government can not take this step, since this sector is considered to be serious for Azerbaijan, and all measures taken for its support under the existing state programs are reasonable. In this regard, in its proposals, Azerbaijan points that the government's decision to release the agricultural sector from taxes (except land tax) up to 2014 will be valid until the end of this period, and the country is not going to change it.

During the previous talks on international trade regime, some countries proposed to reduce customs tariffs, setting them below 15 percent, which today are the maximum rate of customs duty in Azerbaijan. The proposals by the Azerbaijani Government, mostly customs duties estimated at 30 percent, but there are also higher. ["Bound" rates offered by Azerbaijan are envisaged on unexpected contingencies in order to protect local production].

Tariff commitments are also key in the process of bilateral talks with the EU and the U.S.. In addition to the tariff policy, their requirements also include to the liberalization of services on intellectual property. They offer opening markets in the financial, communications sector, in the sphere of distributor service, the distribution area.

Under the previously prepared strategy of economic liberalization, the growth of the non-oil sector would amount to 2.4 percent within two years after the admission and demand for imports would increase by approximately 7.7 percent. Meanwhile, the preservation of customs tariffs at current levels is speeding up the process of Azerbaijan's joining the WTO.

Azerbaijan is in the process of holding negotiations with the United States, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, the EU, Norway, India, South Korea and Taiwan. This year, Switzerland joined the list in 2009.

Currently, negotiations were completed and protocols were signed with Turkey, Oman and the UAE. The country is at the stage of signing protocols with Moldova and Kyrgyzstan.

Recently, the WTO Secretariat extended a working group on Azerbaijan by including four more countries, the Azerbaijani Economic Development Ministry reported.

The WTO Secretariat established the working group on Azerbaijan July, 16, 1997.

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