The 148-nation World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 26 added Iran to the list of nations seeking to join the Geneva, Switzerland-based arbiter of multilateral trade practices. The WTO has established a panel to examine Iran's membership application and a separate "working party" to review a membership bid from Sao Tom and Principe, an island nation off the West African coast.
Currently, 30 governments are seeking to join the WTO, including the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
As expected, also on May 26, the WTO formally appointed Pascal Lamy, the European Union's former trade commissioner, to be its next director-general. "I believe that we have a crucial task ahead: to complete the Doha Development Agenda Round of trade talks," said Lamy. "This will be my immediate first, second and third priority so as to ensure that trade opening continues to contribute to development and that we place the interests of developing countries at the center of the world trading system."
The Doha Round originally was scheduled to be completed by this past January 1; negotiations now aren't expected to be completed until late 2006.
Lamy begins his five-year term on Sept. 1, 2005.