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Opinions & Interviews

13 Nov 2018

Details of negotiations on Belarus’ WTO accession revealed

Details of negotiations on Belarus’ WTO accession revealed

MINSK, 13 November (BelTA) – Belarusian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Yeudachenka has talked to reporters to reveal details of the negotiations on Belarus’ accession to the World Trade Organization, BelTA has learned.

The official said that while in Minsk WTO Deputy Director General Alan Wolff mentioned that the idea of Belarus joining the organization enjoys support at every level in the country. Alan Wolff also mentioned the seriousness of intentions of the Belarusian side.

According to Andrei Yeudachenka, Belarus stays in touch with the partners, who desire to negotiate with Minsk as part of the WTO accession process. A dialogue constantly goes on. The official remarked that Belarus would like to continue informal consultations, which had proven their effectiveness in addition to official talks. Speaking about the issues that have to be dealt with on the way to the WTO membership, Andrei Yeudachenka mentioned some of them. For instance, WTO members would like Belarus to reduce the tariff protection level. Quotas on selling agricultural products on the Belarusian market were mentioned as well as the presence of branches of foreign companies in Belarus.

“Now is not a very good time from the point of view of development of global trade: protectionism is on the rise, the largest players on the market fling sanctions and counter-sanctions at each other. The U.S. government practices a rough approach to all the countries as far as trade relations are concerned. Unfortunately, we now feel the brunt of it. At some other point in time the approach of the U.S. government to purely economic, purely trade relations could be more liberal,” believes Andrei Yeudachenka. However, Minsk has to deal with the current situation and prepare for detailed and specific negotiations on every sector.

The official pointed out that early in the negotiation process representatives of the United States of America asked rather general questions. They wondered about the Belarusian government’s approaches to macroeconomic parameters, about the operation of the economy and the parliament’s role. A lot of time was spent discussing general matters. In the last 12 months the Americans switched to WTO-related matters and started asking specific questions.

As part of the negotiation process the USA invited Belarus to join certain industry-wise initiatives, which apply to a certain number of goods in various industries. “For instance, we are invited to accede to the agreement on aviation and aircraft parts. It is part of the WTO+ system. A country willing to join the WTO has no obligation to sign such agreements. But certainly our partners would love to grab the opportunity and encourage us to go the extra mile and embrace the WTO+ package,” stated Andrei Yeudachenka.

It is possible that at a later stage of Belarus-USA negotiations some political measures to support the process may be required at the level of the head of state, the government, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the official.

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