Saudi Arabia has formally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), becoming its 149th member just two days ahead of a key WTO summit in Hong Kong.
The kingdom was admitted by the WTO's member governments on 11 November following 12 years of intense negotiations. The formal accession was timed to allow the country to take part in the WTO ministerial meeting this week as a full member.
"This is a historic event for the WTO," said the organisation's director general Pascal Lamy, adding that Saudi Arabia's membership would pave the way for a stronger multilateral trading system.
Saudi Arabia is the world's 13th largest merchandise exporter and the 23rd biggest importer, reports Saudi newspaper Arab News.
As a result of its negotiations to join the WTO, which have been ongoing since July 1993, the kingdom has committed itself to further liberalise its trade regime and speed up its integration in the world economy, while offering a transparent and predictable environment for trade and foreign investment in accordance with WTO rules. Saudi Arabia will also get rid of any non-tariff measures it cannot justify under WTO rules and will allow foreign insurance companies to open up branches in the country, AKI reports.