Hopping aboard

Published: Friday 30 April 2004

-- It's official. Nepal has now become the 147th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO said that the Nepalese government has formally ratified the membership agreement. This ratification lifts the barrier to access global free trade. Nepal is the first least-developed country to accede to the WTO since its formation in 1995.

Among other things, in its membership negotiations, Nepal has agreed to bind its tariffs at an average of 42 per cent for agriculture and 24 per cent for industrial goods. It would also open 11 service sectors, and implement new legislations on customs valuation and sanitary measures. The country hopes to adopt these steps by January 1, 2007. Further, it will enforce a new legislation on intellectual property, conforming to the WTO trade related agreement.

Joining the WTO involves a cumbersome process. Trade ministers from WTO countries approved Nepal's membership during the Cancun meeting in Mexico last September.

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