Accession for What? An Examination of Ethiopia's Decision to Join the WTO

Melaku Geboye Desta

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Ethiopia, a founding member of many of the international and regional organizations today and the second most populous country in the UN list of least-developed countries (LDCs), is currently in the early stages of negotiating its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This article asks the basic questions of why Ethiopia uncharacteristically stayed out of such an important multilateral endeavour for so long and why it wants to join now, and what the potential implications of the decision to join the system will be for the legal, institutional and economic policy landscape of the country both during the accession process as well as after achieving membership. The Ethiopian Government argues that WTO accession would help facilitate economic growth, attract foreign investment, secure predictable and transparent market access, and allow it to have a say on the direction of globalization. While many of these are in line with the conventional explanations about the benefits of WTO accession, this article argues that the balance of rights and obligations contained in the WTO legal framework and its enforcement mechanism mean that Ethiopia's ability to make use of the system to realize these ambitions is, at best, limited. However, the article concludes with a positive note that, if the accession process is handled carefully and final membership obligations carried out in good filth, WTO accession is likely to contribute to those goals indirectly through, inter alia, the review and reform of national laws and policies, the establishment of objective, impartial and effective administrative procedures and implementing institutions, and its potential overall contribution to the establishment of a system of rule of law, administrative transparency and accountability in the country.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)339-362
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of World Trade
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


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