[lg policy] Arabs push for Arabic to be official WTO language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 27 15:38:22 UTC 2010

Arabs push for Arabic to be official WTO language
Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:05pm ESTGENEVA (Reuters) -

Arab members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are pushing for
Arabic to be made a fourth official language of the global trade body,
diplomats and officials said Tuesday.
But the heavy cost of translation, interpreting and extra printing
involved in adding Arabic to the three current official languages --
English, French and Spanish -- means the proposal is running up
against resistance.  "There has been a formal request made by Kuwait
and members are engaged in consultations now," WTO spokesman Keith
Rockwell said. Any move to add Arabic as an official language would
probably prompt a request for Chinese, and maybe even Russian --
aligning WTO language policy with the United Nations.

"Well maybe Russian is a bit premature," said one ambassador,
referring to Moscow's on-again off-again access process with the WTO.
Adding three languages would cost about 45 million Swiss francs ($43
million) a year, the ambassador said -- no small amount given a total
WTO budget in 2009 of 189 million francs. As a result the Arab group
will need to lobby hard to convince other members of the virtues of
the proposal  The WTO's 153 members include a dozen Arab countries,
and another six are applying to join, including Iraq, Algeria and
Libya. The Arab group is also pushing for the Palestine Liberation
Organization to get observer status as a prelude to membership when
the occupied Palestinian territories gain statehood.

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