/ / News

Belarus to ratify agreement on Customs Union operation in case of entering WTO

MINSK, 3 November (BelTA) – Belarusian MPs are set to ratify an agreement on the operation of the Customs Union within the framework of the multilateral trading system, BelTA learnt from Vitaly Busko, Chairman of the Permanent Commission for International Affairs and Links with the CIS of the House of Representatives of Belarus.

According to the MP, the agreement will give the right to any Customs Union member state to join the World Trade Organization on its own. “There were plans to enter the organization together, as a single block of the three states. However, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have changed their mind and decided to do that separately. This agreement is aimed to remove barriers on the way to the WTO for the Customs Union member states,” Vitaly Busko said.

The most important requirement of the agreement is harmonization of the entire legal framework of the Customs Union participating states with the rules and principles of the WTO. This pertains to tariff and non-tariff regulations in foreign trade, among other things.

The MP emphasized that the agreement allows each party to stick to some provisions of the Customs Union if they are more liberal compared with WTO agreements and do not contradict them. At the same time, the rights and obligations of the parties stipulated by WTO agreements cannot be abolished or restricted by the Customs Union.

Vitaly Busko is convinced that Belarus will greatly benefit from this agreement. “The entry to the WTO is associated with a complicated negotiating process. For example, Russia has delegated 70 negotiators to participate in the talks. After Russia has passed this way, it will be easier for the other two to follow suit,” he said.

Russia is determined to join the WTO by the end of December 2011. However, this will not happen overnight. According to Russian experts, the accession process will take from two to seven years. “Belarus will have enough time to analyze it and avoid mistakes. Besides, the process as such will be easier for Belarus after Russia has completed it. After all, the legislation of the Customs Union will be harmonized with WTO requirements and if the WTO accepts Russia and agrees to Russian legislation, they will have to accept our legislation”, Vitaly Busko said. He reminded that Belarus has been in talks on the WTO entry since 1993. He assured that the whole process will be smooth and gradual.

The MPs discussed the agreement to be ratified. Addressing the MPs, Director of the Foreign Economic Department of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Alexander Averyanov noted that the prompt entry to the WTO is of major political importance for the Customs Union member states. In his opinion, the ratification of the agreement will help enhance the investment appeal of Belarus and confirm our country’s commitment to the liberalization of the foreign trade.