March 4, 2013
After a dozen years of trying, Tajikistan officially entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on March 2, to become the world trade club's 159th member, and the second of the Central Asian republics to make it through the door.
Following 12 years of talks - according to the Tajik Foreign Ministry, the country applied for membership back in May 2001 - Dushanbe completed negotiations to join the WTO in October. Accession was approved in December, with a protocol signed in Geneva. That agreement was ratified by Tajikistan's upper house of parliament in January.
According to a statement from the WTO, "Tajikistan has agreed to undertake a series of important commitments to further liberalize its trade regime and accelerate its integration in the world economy."
Tajikistan is the second Central Asian republic to become a WTO member; Kyrgyzstan having joined way back in 1998. Kazakhstan, the region's largest economy, is close to accession, but some issues still need to be resolved. WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said in January that Astana is expected to finish negotiations by the end of the year.
Even Turkmenistan, with its tightly controlled and closed economy, announced in January that it was setting up a working group with the aim of opening accession negotiations.