Deep integration should eventually lead to finish line

Russia to help Belarus join World Trade Organization

By Alexander Bogomazov

Recently, it was announced that a Russian team of negotiators (to join Belarus in talks regarding joining the WTO) is to be headed by the authoritative and experienced economist, Maxim Medvedkov, who is also the Director of the Russian Ministry for Economic Development’s Department of Trade Negotiations. The news was given by the Ambassador Extraordinary of Russia to Belarus, H.E. Mr. Alexander Surikov, during an Internet briefing organised by the souyz.by information-analytical portal and Belarus’ National Press Centre.

On December 20th, 2011, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, signed a special memorandum regarding Russia’s complete assistance in helping Belarus join the WTO. After the document’s signing, the Minister for Industry and the Agro-Industrial Complex of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Sergei Sidorsky, noted, “In the coming years, Belarusians and Russian colleagues will work together on this matter. The latter’s assistance will provide deep integration, which should enable Belarus to eventually join the WTO.”

So far, Russian and Belarusian officials are refraining from clarifying any timeline for the process but hints are that talks can take quite some time.

Russia joined the WTO not long ago — on December 16th, 2011 — after many years of completing complicated talks. It was even supposed that the Customs Union’s three members — Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus — might join as a single entity. However, the WTO rejected the idea.

“We hope that our efforts will result in Belarus and Kazakhstan overcoming all stages of talks in a short period oftime. Probably, they won’t take 18 years to join [as taken by Russia],” Mr. Surikov mused. He believes there to be positive and negative consequences in joining the WTO. “Evidently, raw material branches will benefit. However, Russia will experience positive and negative aspects, as it has a private sector. Similarly, Belarus has few raw materials but boasts branches connected with the processing of Russian raw materials,” added Mr. Surikov.

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