The U.S wants an immediate conclusion to bilateral negotiations with Azerbaijan on its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), U.S ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Morningstar said on Thursday at an event dedicated to the completion of the "Competition and trade in Azerbaijan" project. The project, with a total cost of $22 million, was co-financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Azerbaijani government.
"The U.S strongly supports Azerbaijan's accession to the WTO and believes that bilateral negotiations will be completed in the near future. Azerbaijan's accession to this organization will contribute to the development of the non-oil sector of its economy, which is a priority of the Azerbaijani government," Morningstar said.
The ambassador expressed his hope that this project will be continued in the future. Morningstar thanked the Azerbaijani government for its participation in financing the joint projects.
"Such projects are evidence of success in our relations," Morningstar said.
According to the head of the negotiation group, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev, who also spoke at the event, said the implementation of this project played a significant role in the process of Azerbaijan's accession to the WTO.
"We have made significant progress in this process in recent years, and U.S support was very useful in this," Mammadguliyev, said.
He expressed his hope that the parties will sign an agreement on starting such a new project by the beginning of the next round of WTO negotiations in late October and early November.
Joint work was carried out on the project during three years on Azerbaijan's private and public sectors to achieve progress in competition, taxes, banking, job creation, etc. In addition, work with the banking sector was carried out in the project for increasing opportunities of agricultural producers to attract funds.
Azerbaijan started negotiations in 2004. The latest negotiations on the country's accession to WTO were held in early June 2013 in Geneva.
Currently, Azerbaijan is in the process of bilateral negotiations with the U.S, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Sri-Lanka, the European Union, Norway, India, South Korea, the Chinese province of Taiwan, Canada, Switzerland and Honduras on accession to the WTO.
Negotiations have been completed and protocols were signed with Turkey, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. The country is at the stage of signing a protocol with Moldova, which still considers the document.
The working group on Azerbaijan at the WTO Secretariat was established on 16 July 1997.
Since 1997, Azerbaijan has been an observer at the WTO.