No Doha, Eh? Let's Try Iranian WTO Accession

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 12/02/2009 03:13:00 PM
In case you're wondering, I'm fully following the WTO ministerial talks but have basically nothing new to report as the stalemate is still degenerating into past North-South patterns [1, 2]. Same old, same old: rich countries want larger tariff cuts on manufactured goods exports to LDCs. On the other hand, LDCs want larger rich country cuts in agricultral subsidies. Where does this leave us? With no advances, basically. Probably in boredom over what's not going on at Brussels, our fearless Reuters scribes have hit on the rather amusing idea of Iran entering the WTO. Before laughing, read some choice passages below. As you can expect, it will be tough for Iran to obtain assent from all member countries with so many Western ones expressing concern over the country's nuclear ambitions. It's going to be a tough sell--like Russia obtaining the same from Georgia and Ukraine:
Iran, which took steps last month to revive its 13-year old application to join the World Trade Organization, hopes to enter the global trade body by 2017, Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari said on Wednesday.

Iran's application to join the WTO, whose consensus system gives every member a veto on decisions, has been held up by Western concern about Tehran's nuclear program. But the United States lifted its objections to accession negotiations in 2005, and Iran sent the WTO a memorandum on its trade policies -- which would form the basis of negotiations -- at the end of last month.

"If we think about the economic point of view, I think it's between five and seven years (from now)," Ghazanfari told reporters during a WTO conference when asked when he expected Iran to get into the organization. His words clearly raised the possibility that politics would continue to pose an obstacle. But he declined to comment on the impact of the nuclear program on future talks, saying the commerce ministry would be pursuing the WTO negotiations from the point of view of trade.

He also declined to say whether Iran was willing to lift its trade boycott of WTO member Israel -- something it would be required to do under WTO non-discrimination rules -- saying that was a matter for future negotiation. Saudi Arabia dropped its boycott of Israel when it joined the WTO in 2005.
In case you're interested, here are the WTO's accession pages for Iran...Iraq and Afghanistan (the American puppet states) and Russia. In what order will they get in? Or, more importantly, will they ever get in?

UPDATE: There's still no movement in Geneva on Doha-related matters as I'm getting ready to head home. Still, I would be quite gobsmacked if a deal isn't reach next year, no matter how watered dow.