WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION:
Latvia and Kyrgyzstan have become the first of the newly independent former Soviet states to join the WTO in Geneva. Formal entry into the organization will occur following ratification of the accession agreements by the national legislatures. Estonia and Lithuania are close to completing their negotiations. Membership in the WTO involves a binding commitment to trade liberalization, in return for sharply improved access to markets in the WTO’s 132 member states. For Latvia, the successful completion of the WTO talks could open the way to acceleration of negotiations with the European Union, where Latvia lags behind its Baltic neighbors.