The chart and photo above give an instant reading of Algeria's status as a consumer market. The country is heavily dependent on the export of hydrocarbons, and the recent rate of growth of its GDP shows a variability that in large part can be attributed to changes in oil prices on the world market.

In early March, The International Trade Reporter (Washington) published a story with a Geneva dateline that told of progress in Algeria's talks with the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Algeria's application for membership.

The story said that WTO members were pleased enough with representations by the Algerian delegation to move ahead with initiating what the Reporter called "one of the key elements" in the country's final membership accession package. That step was the preparation of a "working party report".

WTO membership for Algeria would be a sign that the country was not only making substantial progress with its macroeconomic statistics, but also that Algeria was beginning to come of age as a viable market economy with contemporary consumer market characteristics.

The Reporter said that progress was accomplished in spite of acknowledged problems. Among the problems noted were service sector anomalies. The Algerian government is apparently trying to limit the role of international market factors in the telecommunications, postal/courier, and transportation segments.

There were also problems between Algeria and the European Union (EU), and Algeria and the United States on trade agreements. Both entities are major trading partners with Algeria. Finally, Algeria's ban on imports of alcoholic beverages caused some consternation.

There was the sense, though, that all of these problems could be worked out. Algeria's Commerce Minister, the prime mover in Algeria's WTO bid, confidently predicted that membership would...

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