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Saudi Arabia Is Approved to Join WTO

October 30, 2005|From Associated Press

GENEVA — Saudi Arabia was given a green light on Friday to join the World Trade Organization, in time to participate in December's ministerial summit in Hong Kong, the global commerce body said.

It took 12 years for Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, to complete talks to join the WTO -- the second-longest accession period after China, which took 14 years.

"We look forward to the kingdom's participation in the Hong Kong ministerial meeting as an active member," WTO chief Pascal Lamy said.

Saudi Arabia's accession still must formally receive final approval from the WTO's governing general council, scheduled for November.

"Our road to accession has been long but finally rewarding," Saudi Trade and Industry Minister Hashim A. Yamani said.

He said Saudi Arabia had made "far reaching, very substantial and commercially meaningful concessions and commitments on goods and services."

The country's services industry was one of the main stumbling blocks to its membership. Several key WTO members, including the United States, had expressed concern over the lack of access to its banking, financing and insurance industries.

About 40 nations are involved in talks to join the WTO.

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