GENEVA, Switzerland, June 15 (UPI) -- Oil-rich Kazakhstan finalized negotiations on its accession to the World Trade Organization, after 20 years of discussions.
An accession package, the term for a formal application of membership to the 161-member intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, will be submitted to the WTO's administrative Working Party on June 22.
"Kazakhstan finalized the negotiations of its WTO membership terms with WTO members at the Working Party meeting on Kazakhstan's accession on 10 June," a statement on the WTO website said Monday, noting the talks were "one of the most challenging negotiations" in the WTO's 20-year history because of difficulty in reaching agreement on tariffs affected by Kazakhstan's membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The EEU is a Russian-led attempt to form a counterpart to the European Union, with Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan, south of Russia and bordering China on the east, is the ninth-largest country on earth by area, and has a population of 18 million.
Vesa Himanen, chairman of the Working Party, hailed the end of discussions as an "historic achievement and successful completion" of negotiations.
The WTO is engaged in trade regulation between member countries, offering an opportunity to negotiate trade agreements and resolve disputes.