30-06-2012 09:19 Belarus
Belarus to decide on WTO accession by 2014
MINSK, (BelTA) – Belarus will make a final decision on its WTO membership by the end of 2013, Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Alexander Gurianov told reporters on 29 June, BelTA has learnt.
The negotiating process is structured into several technical stages, the Deputy Foreign Minister said. “Now we are working on a memorandum that details Belarus’ efforts to harmonize its legislation with the WTO regulations. We have already passed four stages of the memorandum preparation; we took into consideration the recommendations of the parties, introduced certain amendments to our legislation and so on. The fourth version of the document has been prepared. Now we are ready to advance to the final stage. Kazakhstan is currently on it, Russia has passed it. This is preparation of detailed fact finding by the Working Party,” Alexander Gurianov said. In his words, the memorandum will contain tariff rates and specific market access commitments. “We are holding market access consultations with other Working Party members,” he said.
Thus, in September we are planning to hold a meeting of the Working Party in order to reach the final round. We hope that the preparation of the fact finding report of the Working Party, i.e. the final package of our WTO commitments, should be faster for Belarus than for Russia and Kazakhstan, because, first, the tariff commitments which Russia negotiated for a long time are uniform in the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. We have no mandate to make further concessions to the WTO member states. We have agreed on the parameters of technical regulations, phyto-sanitary measures, non-tariff regulations at the level of the SES, too. So we actually believe that this stage will be routine for us, he said.
“Access to financial markets, currency regulations, investments, systemic measures in economy, and intellectual property are under our national purview in many ways, because these issues have not yet been resolved. When negotiating these issues we will concentrate on the Working Group countries. To date, we have already signed final protocols with 10 countries. We still have to negotiate access to the goods market with 10 countries and access to the services market with another 10 countries,” he noted.
“Of course, the remaining countries are big shots such as the United States and the EU member states. The negotiations with them are expected to be the most serious. Here our position has been to some extent agreed with Russia and we have been promised certain consultative and political support,” Alexander Gurianov said.
“We are talking about the technical stage of the negotiations, with the experts in different areas. Politics does not count here. We hope the main WTO players will be pragmatic enough not to raise political issues in Belarus’ accession to the WTO. The more so because the WTO has always declared itself an economic organization, not political,” the official said.
Talking about specific guidelines regarding the WTO accession, Alexander Gurianov said: “There are subjective and objective factors. If we abstract from subjective factors and take an objective look at these technical stages, we might reach some decision by the end of next year.”