JULY 22 (The Bulletin) — Turkmenistan took what some observers said was a giant step towards shrugging off some of its isolationist attitudes when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) granted it observer status.
Turkmen officials formally applied for observer status in May and said that it would negotiate full membership of the WTO within five years. Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Belarus are the other former Soviet countries still not members of the WTO.
Observer status is considered a stepping stone to full status, a way for a country’s deputies to mug up on how the WTO works and to start making connections and building influence. Turkmenistan has previously shunned WTO membership, preferring to strike bilateral deals.
International economists, though, have been urging Turkmenistan to join WTO to give itself more flexibility over how it strikes deals.
— This story was published in issue 455 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 31 2020.
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020