Sanaa says it will address the requirements for joining the WTO in 2008, allowing it to become a member a year later.

Minister of Trade & Industry Yahya al-Mutawakel announced the move as he led a Yemini delegation to a meeting in Geneva on 3 November.

Setting out a timetable, Al-Mutawakel called for talks to move on to the preparation of a draft report, which would later become a protocol for Yemen’s entry to the WTO.

Yemen has been trying to become a member since July 2000. However, it still has work to do on opening up its economy and introducing new laws covering trade to meet WTO membership rules.

Its parliament recently ratified the Paris and Berne conventions on intellectual property and it is holding bilateral negotiations with other countries to open its economy to other markets.

It recently concluded market access negotiations with China. Such talks are expected to intensify before the next working party meeting, according to the WTO, which could take place in the first half of next year.

To date, 10 of the WTO’s 151 members are from the Middle East. The most recent to join was Saudi Arabia in December 2005.

Currently ,Yemen has observer status, along with six other countries in the region.