EU, Afghan govt's upbeat on WTO prospects

Feb. 10, 2014 at 1:40 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht says getting Afghanistan into the World Trade Organization will help bring stability to the country.

Delegates from Afghanistan and the European Union signed a deal in Geneva, Switzerland, that would give Afghanistan greater market access in the EU and lower tariffs once it joins the WTO.

"I'm convinced that WTO membership will help Afghanistan's stabilization and economic development," the trade commissioner said Monday in a statement. "The EU hopes to welcome Afghanistan into the WTO family very soon and to see it playing a full part in the rules based multilateral trading system."

Afghanistan submitted its application to join the WTO in 2004. The Afghan Ministry of Commerce and Industries said it expects the country will become a member by the end of 2014.

The EU said 9 percent of its exports and 12 percent of imports are with Afghanistan. European Union member states export vehicles, fuel products and electricity equipment to Afghanistan and import leather products, some produce and electronic products.

International forces are ending their combat roles in Afghanistan this year as national forces take on more responsibility for national security.

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