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Armenia Joins World Trade Organization


GENEVA (AP) - Ten years after it first asked to join, Armenia on Wednesday became the 145th member of the World Trade Organization. The WTO, which sets rules on international trade, confirmed the admission following the Armenian government's ratification of the membership documents last month.

Armenia first applied to join the WTO in 1993, and had to negotiate bilateral treaties with most of its major trading partners, as well as changing laws and regulations to comply with WTO rules, before the world trade body would agree to admit it.

A former Soviet republic of 3.3 million people, Armenia had foreign exports in 2001 of US$343 million, while it imported US$874 million in goods and services. The Armenian economy also grew rapidly in 2002.

Six other former Soviet republics already are WTO members, while seven - including Russia - are among the 26 countries seeking membership. The next country to join the WTO likely will be Macedonia, which is expected to tell the WTO shortly that its parliament has ratified the membership documents.
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