Outgoing Lebanese Economy Minister Nasser Saidi spoke before a press conference on Monday, saying that Lebanon’s eventual membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) will not happen “for years”. Furthermore, he said that accession to the WTO is not the “ultimate objective,” rather “The ultimate goal is to make Lebanon internationally competitive,” quoted the Daily Star.
For Lebanon to be considered for membership at the WTO, 17 laws must be passed. The laws cover almost every aspect of Lebanon’s legislative body. Saidi, head of a national committee in charge of Lebanon’s preparation for full WTO membership, noted that only three of the required laws have already been passed by the national legislatures.
Yet, of the three, the copyright law, passed in May 1999, needs to be strengthened and revamped to meet WTO requirements because it gives students the right to continue copying computer software. The other two laws that have been passed, regarding intellectual property and anti-dumping, have fit the bill and meet WTO criteria.
The WTO currently has 137 members, including 10 Arab countries. Six other Arab countries, including Lebanon, are still in the process of applying and establishing national legislation to enable accession to the WTO.
Presently, Lebanon maintains ‘observer’ status at the WTO, which it received in April 1999. As of now, the federal cabinet has already approved an accession master plan and is expected to issue a memorandum of foreign trade within weeks. The master plan will be put before the national committee for approval after which it will be reviewed by the WTO. — (Albawaba-MEBG)