Ethiopia’s Long Walk to WTO Membership:
Exploring the Implications of the 2012 WTO Accession Guidelines for Least Developing Countries
Henok Birhanu Asmelash
Ethiopia is one of the eight least developed countries (LDCs) that are currently in the process of accession to the WTO. Despite pursuing WTO membership for the past twelve years, the country is still nowhere near joining the global trade body. Progress in the accession process is held back by a series of issues including Ethiopia’s reluctance to open some sectors, which are deemed to be of vital importance for the country’s economic development, and the protracted nature of WTO accession negotiations. The adoption of the 2012 WTO Accession Guidelines for LDCs has raised hopes that it will give an easy ride to acceding LDCs like Ethiopia. But, the question how easy the ride will be has hardly been explored. By examining whether, and if so how, the benchmarks contained in the accession guidelines expedite Ethiopia’s WTO accession, this article aims to address the important, but neglected question of how far the new guidelines can help acceding LDCs’ aspiration to join the WTO without succumbing to existing members’ pressure to make market access concessions that are not commensurate with their level of economic development or trade and financial needs.