The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) says the 160-member body is in active discussions with 10 countries aiming to become members, including Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a report cited by the Reuters news agency on November 25 that negotiations with Kazakhstan "are at an advanced stage of maturity and on the threshold of conclusion."
Aevedo said a formal decision should be announced early next year.
He added that Afghanistan could follow, but a draft deal concluded in March has to be finalized and requires "appropriate signaling from Kabul," which had postponed a final meeting to seal the deal, the director general said.
To become members, candidate countries must agree to cut tariffs and change their laws to guarantee the rights of importers and exporters under WTO rules.