Iran's accession to WTO still not a key campaign issue!
Last week, the WTO finally voted to start membership talks with Iran after the United States lifted its long-standing opposition to Tehran's bid. It is still doubtful whether the candidates have realized the significance of the WTO decision and the difficult road ahead for Iran. Many still see accession to the WTO as a sheer economic process which, according to this perception, will entail repercussions for the country's economy only. For instance, Larijani, one of the contenders, while approving Iran's move to join the WTO, has warned against the consequences of accession for domestic industry. Therefore, he has suggested that before full accession, "it is essential that the context for accession be ready". In his view, the context for accession is ready when "the quality and types of our products" meet world standards. What seems to have escaped Mr. Larijani is that the rules of the WTO are not limited to those that govern the quality of the goods or those that regulate tariffs. In fact, by acceding to the WTO, Iran will give consent to become part of a system which is increasingly moving towards a harmonized and uniform system of global regulations and structures. Thus, Iran will no longer be free to lay down whatever trade rules it wishes. Gloabl system narrows the range of policy options available to states both in trade law and human rights. In other words, the WTO is representative of a global economic structure where the power of trade is used to advance critical non-economic objectives. Then, given its record of human rights as well as the existence of practices which threaten the rule of law, will Iran be ready to become part of this system in the near future? What polciy mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Iran will meet the criteria to become part of the gloabl economic system? These are crucial issues that unfortunately seem to be left out of the candidates' agenda.