Schedule compiled and everything running its course

Belarus to take firm decision on WTO accession by late 2013
By Anna Kotova

Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexander Guryanov, has told journalists that the negotiation process on joining the WTO envisages a whole range of technical stages. “We’re currently preparing a consolidated report: a code of information on measures adopted by Belarus (or planned for adoption) to bring our national legislation in compliance with WTO rules. We’ve already covered four stages of this consolidated report, taking into account recommendations and making definite changes to our legislation,” he asserts. “A fourth version has been prepared and, as soon as it’s adopted, we’ll reach the final stage, where Kazakhstan is now (Russia has already completed these stages): the preparation of a report by a working party on WTO accession.”

He notes that the working party’s report will contain definite terms regarding tariffs and other issues relating to WTO membership. “We’ll continue our work in bilateral groups, consulting with a whole range of countries which are members of our working party regarding access to markets,” he adds.

“In September, we plan to hold a session of the working party to reach the final stage. Moreover, we hope that we’ll be quicker in preparing our report (a financial package of our obligations within the WTO) than was the case for Russia and Kazakhstan. Firstly, the tariff obligations (long negotiated by Russia) are the same across the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space. Moreover, we have no mandate for further concessions, so we believe that we should pass through this stage automatically,” he emphasises.

“Yet to be settled are issues of access to financial markets and currency regulation, investments and systems regarding the economy and intellectual property. We’ve signed final protocols with ten countries and need to negotiate with ten others on access to markets for goods and with ten states regarding access to markets for services,” he tells us.

“Of course, we’ll have the most serious talks with the USA and with EU states. However, our position is mostly the same as that of Russia. We have been promised definite consultation and political support, so as to avoid dragging out the process,” stresses Mr. Guryanov. “We hope that there will be a definite degree of pragmatism from the WTO’s major players, to avoid political issues becoming an obstacle to Belarus’ membership. The WTO has always declared itself to be an economic organisation rather than a political one,” he continues.

“If we avoid reacting subjectively, seeing the technical stages objectively, we should be able to reach decisions by late 2013. This is how we assess the situation at the Foreign Ministry provided no obstacles are created for us and will do our ‘homework’ efficiently, on the terms agreed with the working party on WTO accession,” resumes Mr. Guryanov.
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