WTO membership eludes Estonia

  • 1999-02-04
TALLINN (BNS) - The World Trade Organization did not include the issue of Estonia's full membership in the organization on the agenda for its meeting in February.

The head of the Estonian delegaton for the WTO accession talks, Clyde Kull, told the Postimees newspaper that Estonia's chances of becoming a full member of the WTO soon were not bad.

"We ourselves have the inner feeling that the process will go on normally. At the present moment we still cannot say that there is reason to ring the bell and say that Estonia won't get into the WTO this year," said Kull.

The WTO accepted Latvia and Kyrgyzstan as the first former Soviet republics as full members last October.

One of the main reasons why Latvia and even Kyrgyzstan were more successful than Estonia in winning WTO membership is that Estonia started accession talks from a very unique position.

"That was Estonia's liberal economic policy, which made the negotiations more difficult," Kull told the newspaper.

The process of meeting the WTO criteria and bilateral talks with WTO members are no longer a major obstacle to accession, Kull said.

The United States is the only country with which bilateral talks still have to be completed, there'e also one issue open with Canada, Kull said, adding that the foreign ministry would do everything to get Estonia into the WTO before the end of this year.