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Vietnam clears key hurdle for joining group

October 27, 2006|From Reuters

GENEVA — Communist-ruled Vietnam was given the go-ahead Thursday to join the World Trade Organization and become its 150th member before the end of the year.

A WTO working party approved documents setting out the terms of the Southeast Asian country's accession, lifting the last major hurdle to entry after 12 years of tough negotiations.

The United States, which in the 1960s and early 1970s waged war against communist North Vietnam and its guerrilla supporters in the south, praised Hanoi's courage in the marathon talks.

Vietnam's membership "will be an important addition to the organization," a U.S. official told the working party meeting, and a European Union envoy said Vietnam had transformed its economy and trading system as the talks had progressed.

Truong Dinh Tuyen, Hanoi's trade minister, told the meeting that his country and its 82 million people had taken on "extensive and far-reaching commitments" to open markets and economic reform and hoped to keep up the momentum.

The entry documents now go before the full WTO membership at a meeting of the body's General Council next month. Diplomats say approval there is expected.

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