Iran, biggest economy outside WTO, says it's ready to join

Thu Dec 17, 2015 2:58pm EST
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By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran is prepared to negotiate its way into the World Trade Organization, Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said on Thursday, building on the momentum of a landmark nuclear deal as Tehran restores international economic links after years of sanctions.

"I'm here with an important message," Nematzadeh told ministers of the trade body's 162 members at a two-yearly meeting in Nairobi.

"Now that years of intensive negotiations have finally cleared all the misunderstandings around Iran's nuclear activities, we are taking the next step towards integrating more deeply into the global economy."

Tehran sealed an accord with world powers in July, agreeing to curb sensitive parts of its nuclear programme in return for an easing of international sanctions. The breakthrough, after more than a decade of deadlock, is prompting keen interest from foreign firms in striking business deals in Iran.

Joining the WTO would involve long and difficult negotiations, but Nematzadeh said Iran was already opening up its trade and investment regime and pursuing bilateral and regional integration with its trading partners.

But regionalism was no substitute for the global system, he said.

"Finalising WTO membership is therefore a priority for the Iranian government. As the largest non-member economy in the world, our full membership will be win-win for all and a significant step towards creating a truly universal organisation."


An Iranian flag flutters in front of the United Nations headquarters, during an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting, in Vienna, March 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader