Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros met the World Trade Organization's Director General, Pascal Lamey, on Tuesday (January 8th) to discuss a number of issues including Ethiopia's accession process to membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
M. Lamey, after expressing his condolences on the untimely death of the late Prime Minister Meles, commended the strong commitment shown by Ethiopia to join the WTO. He said the ongoing negotiations of the accession process would be important in triggering discussions at the highest policy making levels. Discussions on a number of areas were bearing fruit and he hoped to see similar results from the ongoing discussions on remaining issues.
He expressed the WTO's commitment to provide any relevant support. M. Lamey also noted the importance of expediting regional integration as a minimum common denominator to facilitate market growth, and underlined the importance of the AU to have a unified position for the next G-20 Summit. Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros emphasized Ethiopia's commitment to the accession process and noted the government's efforts to narrow differences. The government was now proposing a roadmap which he hoped would trigger flexibility from the partners' side.
He believed existing differences on telecom and financial sectors should not be impediments to the ongoing accession process as Ethiopia had expressed its readiness to work on these issues on a short-to-medium term basis. Maintaining the telecom sector in public ownership in the short term comes from a belief that it will be more productive to open it up once the Government ensures broad telecom service coverage to all rural areas. The financial sector would also be liberalized once the Government established strong central regulations capable of accommodating the growing needs of foreign companies, maximized its foreign currency source base and realized the emergence of competitive domestic lenders. In this connection, Dr. Tedros noted the government's efforts to maximize the private sector's networking capacity and expand the market share of local manufacturing.