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“Over the last 18 months, there have been clear signals that Belarus now sees WTO accession as one of the priorities for the Government. This renewed high-level political engagement from Minsk has injected new impetus in the process and is very much supported by the WTO members,” said Ambassador Kemal Madenoğlu (Turkey), Chairperson of the Working Party.
At the meeting of the Working Party on 24 January (the first formal meeting since May 2005), H.E. Mr Andrei Yeudachenka, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, emphasized that moving forward with WTO accession was a priority for the country and in line with the decisions of the President and the Government taken in 2016. He said: “We view WTO membership as a tool for the integration of Belarus into the global economy and for strengthening the competitiveness of our national economy, as well as an important element of an attractive investment climate.” He added that 2017 was a crucial year in terms of the accession process and that Belarus counted on the support of WTO members.
The full statement of Mr Yeudachenka is available here.
Foreign trade regime and WTO rules
Members of the Working Party reviewed the foreign trade regime of Belarus on the basis of inputs provided by the country and on “elements” of the draft Working Party report prepared by the WTO Secretariat.
Members flagged comments and questions on a wide range of issues pertaining to the country’s foreign trade regime, including state ownership and privatization, pricing policy, trading rights, trade facilitation, import licensing, customs valuation, export regulations, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and intellectual property rights. The Working Party Chairperson invited members to submit their written questions/comments by 21 February 2017.
Bilateral market access negotiations
Belarus reported that it had concluded bilateral market access agreements with 10 WTO members. It also reported renewed engagement with interested members in the remaining bilateral market access negotiations on goods and services. The Chairperson of the Working Party urged all parties concerned to continue work in this area on a priority basis “expeditiously and constructively”. He said: “I hope that by the time of our next meeting, we will be in a position to report on significant progress and, possibly, the conclusion of some more bilateral agreements.”
Belarus updated members on legislative developments and reaffirmed its commitment to bring its trade regime into conformity with WTO rules.
Belarus has been invited to submit written replies to members’ questions, an updated Legislative Action Plan, copies of relevant draft and adopted legislation, and additional documentation such as updated information on domestic support to agriculture, state-trading, and subsidies. The WTO Secretariat was requested to prepare a draft Working Party report for review by the Working Party at the next meeting.
- Previous Working Party meeting: 24 May 2005 (7th meeting)
- Working Party Chairperson: Ambassador Kemal Madenoğlu (Turkey)
- Application first received: 23 September 1993
- Working Party established: 27 October 1993
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