ALTERNATIVE TO WTO?

Muslim countries are going to establish Islamic common market

The issue of entrance of Azerbaijan to the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains unresolved. The question whether to enter the WTO is the focus of heat discussions at the governmental circles on the eve of the next round of talks, and it gets resumed after a while lasting silence. Azerbaijan has been holding relevant talks with the WTO, necessary documents were submitted to the central office of the organization in Geneva, while from 1997 the country holds status at the WTO.

Azerbaijan can pin hopes in membership at the WTO. Major factors are the improvement of the investment climate in the country and the attraction of foreign investments, which will have positive impact on the development of the private sector.

In June Geneva hosted a meeting of the working groups of WTO and Azerbaijan, which also considered answers to questions received from Azerbaijan during the previous gathering of the working group held in October 2004. The number of question decreased as compared to previous rounds - now they number some 100. Azerbaijan’s new position on tariff of service and agriculture is under development.

In many parameters Azerbaijan meets the WTO standards. Рўthus, we achieved definite successes in the defense of intellectual property, Kamran Imanov, the Director of Copyrights Agency, said. Azerbaijan has submitted to the WTO proposals on intellectual property, the so-called ICC-9 scheme.

Azerbaijan should not be either hasty or slow at the consultations to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadkuliyev said.

In difference to the Minister for Economic Development, Mammadkuliyev did not comment on the possible time for the Azerbaijan’s accession to WTO. В"It is a complicated negotiation process. One can, of course, agree to all the requirements of the principal member states, to sign all papers. However, I do not think, it will be proper. Azerbaijan is to defend its positions especially in those directions, where it has good perspectives for the national production development and to become exporter. Along with this, one should not be late, as the WTO requirements to the candidate countries enhance. Our main trade partners have advanced far in the issue: Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan”, deputy Minister said and added, the talks are to be held rationally, with the country’s interests taken into account.

According to Mammadkuliyev, practically all WTO countries, including the major ones, support Azerbaijan’s entry to WTO. The USA, interested in this process at WTO render technical assistance to Azerbaijan during three years.

Meanwhile, Kamaladdin Heydarov, the chairman of the State Customs Committee, regards Azerbaijan’s entrance to the WTO in the current stage as inexpedient. Heydarov argues that the most important for Azerbaijan is that whether the Azerbaijani farmers could cover the demand of the domestic market. “The Azerbaijani agriculture production is purer ecologically than the import ones.

Unfortunately, still many import products are made of crude, which we have,” Heydarov stressed. The country will be ready to enter the WTO only when it could set up production of ready products, but not involved in the crude export, he explained.

Now Azerbaijan has an alternative to the WTO. The Muslim countries are going to establish the Islamic common market with the hope to urge forward growth of trade and intensify its economic development.

A challenge to the establishment of a unified trade alliance of the Islam countries has been sounded recently in the end of the three-day World Islamic Economic Forum held Koala-Lumpur under the aegis of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The initiators of the proposal urge that 57 OIC member-countries could consolidate their position in the world economic arena, through signing an agreement on free trade within the framework of the Islamic community. At present OIC countries hold less than 5% of common GDP, while trade turnover among the countries comprise approximately $800bn, or 7% of the entire goods turnover of international trade.

The World Islamic Forum, which brought together over 500 delegates from 44 countries, is intended to become an equivalent of the World Economic Forum, annually held in Davos, Switzerland. As of results of the event the participants agreed upon the establishment of a permanent secretariat, as well as on the organization of the forum on annual basis in Malaysia and Pakistan by turn.

In reply to question by an expert of Trend whether the future Muslim trade market could grow to an organization like the WTO and become a full alternative the answer was that at the moment a Muslim trade organization is a phantom of an immaterial idea of the would-be organization. As to alternatives of the WTO the Muslim trade organization could become an organization like the WTO, while it requires a long period of time. Even in this case �full replacement’ is out question due to scantiness of the Muslim organization.” According to the expert, the WTO is an occurred fact, a strong organization which unites 148 countries, including a number of Muslim countries. The WTO proved its right for existence and to get assured in its competency it’s enough to glance at neighbors in the South Caucasus region. “Besides, the strength of the WTO is that its members cannot be only promises. It does not admit the 'promise-givers’, as it is necessary to implement some concrete terms to become a member of the WTO.

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