Nivedita Das Kundu writes: Kazakhstan on 10th June, 2015, completed its negotiation process for getting membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). On 22nd June, 2015 the WTO member States voted in favour of Kazakhstan’s inclusion in WTO.[i] This move can be considered as a landmark decision in favour of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan will be the second Central Asian State to join WTO after Kyrgyzstan.
In the year 1996, Kazakhstan submitted the application showing the willingness to join WTO.[ii] However, it took long time to get the support from WTO members for Kazakhstan’s inclusion. The application process for Kazakhstan’s entry into WTO became complicated due to Kazakhstan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Eurasian Customs Union (ECU).[iii]As for maintaining EEU membership Kazakhstan had to transform large part of its trade regime in accordance with the legal framework of EEU and revised its customs practices and tariffs to match with the EEU norms.[iv] Moreover, the disagreements over agricultural subsidies were another stumbling block while negotiating for the WTO membership talks.[v]
Kazakhstan’s accession to WTO is a significant step for Kazakh government for achieving economic prosperity. However, there are still few obstacles that Kazakhstan has to overcome to become full member of WTO by end of 2015. The obstacles are mainly related to the government grunts, tax discrimination in favor of domestic agricultural products, protection of intellectual property rights, maintaining hygiene in food products, revising import licensing procedures, improving the standards for procurement practice etc.[vi] Hence, there are still few issues and concerns that Kazakhstan needs to resolve for getting the WTO membership by end of this year.
After almost 20 years of negotiation Kazakhstan has gained entry into WTO. Though WTO accession is expected to bring economic prospects for Kazakhstan, however, there will also be difficulties along the way. Keeping balance between Kazakhstan’s major economic priorities along with the commitments for maintaining WTO requirements might become a concern for the Kazakh policy makers.
[i]Nurzhan Zhambekov, (24.6.2015) “Kazakhstan Completes WTO Negotiations”, available http://www.cacianalyst.org/publications/analytical-articles/item/13237-kazakhstan-completes-wto-negotiations.html
[ii] Richard Pomfret, “The Economic Cooperation Organization: Current Status and Future Prospects”, Europe-Asia Studies, 49(4), July 1997, pp. 649–59.
[iii] ANI Report on Kazakhstan, (June 2015), “New Tourism Destination”.
[iv] Kazakh Embassy Report,(2015), Astana Calling, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia Sign Eurasian Union Treaty”, New Delhi
[v] Kazakhstan’s WTO Accession Providing a Gateway to the World available athttp://www.edgekz.com/kazakhstans-wto-accession-providing-gateway-world/
[vi] WTO News (27.7.2015), “General Council approves Kazakhstan’s membership terms, only ratification left” , available athttps://www.wto.org/index.htm