MINSK, 8 February (BelTA) – In 2017 Belarus considerably intensified the talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is intended to keep the pace, Belarus' Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei said in an interview to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, BelTA has learned.
“After a twelve-year hiatus, we held two meetings of the WTO working group on Belarus' accession in Geneva in January and September. During the meetings the WTO members expressed support for Belarus on its way to membership in the organization and also praised the quality of our documents. A unanimous decision was made to prepare a draft report of the working group, which actually took the multilateral negotiations to the final stage,” the minister said.
According to him, the second wording of the draft report of the working group is almost ready. The next round of talks in Geneva is scheduled for spring 2018.
Vladimir Makei views the progress on the bilateral track as unprecedented in the history of the talks. Since 1993, Belarus has concluded bilateral negotiations with ten WTO members. Last year, the country completed the talks with six more members of the organization, including the Republic of Korea, Norway and Japan. “We have also managed to significantly narrow and concretize the requests of ten more WTO members with whom we are currently continuing an active and substantive dialogue,” the minister said.
“As for the time frame, joining the WTO is not an end in itself for Belarus. We consider it not as a political step, but as an incentive to modernize the national economy, an opportunity to strengthen our positions in the world markets and to confirm Belarus' image as a reliable and predictable trading partner,” the Belarusian minister of foreign affairs said.
He also expressed regret that the attempts of some WTO members to ‘tie' the solution of their issues with the Eurasian Economic Union as an integration association to the Belarusian negotiating track affect the time frame of the talks. “Belarus has repeatedly stressed its commitment to the ideas of the Eurasian integration. I am confident that with the support of the EAEU members, and with the active assistance of the Russian Federation in particular, we will find effective solutions to the matter. Despite all the difficulties I can say for sure: Belarus does not intend to slow down the pace. Belarus hopes to agree with the WTO members as soon as possible on mutually acceptable terms that would primarily meet our national interests and correspond to our EAEU commitments,” the minister said.