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Vietnam nears final stages of WTO membership talks

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, Mar 27 (Reuters) Vietnam's bid to join the World Trade Organization is approaching ''its final stages'' as the country has nearly secured the two remaining bilateral deals it needs for accession, a WTO official said today.

Countries wishing to join the WTO must secure deals with each of their trading partners already in the organization, as well as an overall agreement detailing their entry terms with all member countries.

The WTO official, who declined to be identified, said Vietnam was ''very close'' to a deal with the United States and had only ''a few minor differences'' left to resolve with Mexico.

Vietnam earlier this year wrapped up bilateral talks with New Zealand and Australia, and in the past few days with Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

In acknowledgment of the country's quick progress, a WTO working party will aim to produce a revised report on Vietnam's entry ''in the next few weeks or months,'' the official said, citing the group's chairman, Eirik Glenne of Norway.

''This is a reflection of the fact that this accession is now entering an intensive phase,'' Glenne was quoted as saying.

Analysts have said WTO membership should generate trade and investment opportunities for Vietnam, a country of 83 million people which boasts one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.

Reuters SI BD2354

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