The absence of some Arab countries from participation in the WTO is due to the fact that the establishment of working parties to examine their applications is blocked.
Applications of some of Arab countries for admission to the WTO are “clinically dead”. Other Arab countries’ applications are at a “standstill”.
Legally, all Arab countries should be able to accede to the WTO. According to article XII of the WTO Charter, any state that has full autonomy in the conduct of its external commercial relations may accede to the WTO. This article begins the accession process.
However, pragmatically, there are prerequisites for accession, such as protection for human rights, religious freedom, and democracy, and not having any trade boycotts. Since Arab countries have their own cultures and do not share all Western values, they are essentially banned from joining the WTO. It seems that WTO accession is a power-based process, rather than a rule-based process, as some legal scholars and WTO members claim.
Academics and policymakers should join forces and push for more Arab accesstion and participation in the WTO.
The Support Arab accesstion and participation in the WTO petition to Academics, policymakers was written by Bashar H. Malkawi and is in the category Law Reform at GoPetition.