I said Yemen, pick yourself off the ground...
A little neglected in the hullabaloo surrounding the conclusion of the "Bali package" at WTO negotiations in the eponymous Indonesian resort location has been the organization's acceptance of its 160th member. A stop on the Silk Route of centuries past, to say Yemen has fallen under hard times due to religious extremists and assorted nutcases taking up their various dubious causes is an understatement. However, it now joins the growing ranks of least-developed country members:
What can I say? Yemen's membership comes just in time to enjoy duty-free, quota-free access by least-developed countries to richer ones as well as preferential rules of origin. Meanwhile, the domestic debate is awfully similar to what countries considering joining the WTO have--we will be inundated with imports, our domestic industries will be wiped out as a consequence, domestic firms are not yet ready, etcIts :Immediately after the heads of delegations’ meeting, members formally accepted Yemen as a new WTO member — its “accession” to the WTO. At a ceremony to celebrate the decision, Mr Azevêdo congratulated the Yemen government for the domestic reforms it is undertaking after 13 years to finally become a WTO member. “We celebrate accessions both because of what it means for the individual country, but also because of what it means for this organization,” he saidThe Republic of Yemen will be the 35th least developed country in the WTO. “This group makes up a fifth of the whole WTO membership. It is an important constituency — and, as we have seen in recent days, it is one that is increasingly making its voice heard,” said the Director-General. Yemen’s Industry and Trade Minister Sa’aduddin Bin Taleb expressed his country’s gratitude and excitement at finally becoming a WTO member.
“Sometimes things change for countries and fortunes change. But the very essence of a country and the history and the civilisation remains. Ours has been trading for the last at least five or six hundred years, in fact, since the spice route," he told the assembled ministers from the WTO’s current membership.“We aim to take back that road again and to connect with everybody in the world. ... I hope that after a few months, we will have a new Yemen born." The Yemeni Parliament will have six months, until 2 June 2014, to ratify its accession package. It will then inform the WTO and 30 days later it will officially become a member.
Sana’a University economics professor Salah Al-Maqtari said the move was a bad one for Yemen. “Yemen already has no customs restraints, and international products have invaded its markets, even before accession to the WTO,” he said. Al-Maqtari said Yemen imports 85 percent of its food commodities from abroad and does not produce many goods for export.
“Yemen is on the losing side because its consumption [of imports] is higher than its production [of goods for export],” he said. Car importer Sami Sabiha said the Yemeni government has not made any preparations to help industries or the economy deal with the difficulties they will face as a result of joining the organization.