Belarus, as the EAEU member, de-facto has been fulfilling all the WTO obligations since 2012, since these obligations, as well as the Russian Federation obligations in the WTO, are the basis of the EAEU legislation.
In 2016 a new composition of the Interministerial Commission on the Belarus’ accession to the WTO was set up. It is headed by the First Deputy Prime-Minister of the Republic of Belarus. Apart from the Government authorities, the composition of the Commission includes representatives of business associations and non-governmental organizations.
Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was appointed as a Chief Negotiator on Belarus’ accession to the WTO.
Belarus holds its negotiations on joining the Word Trade Organization in four major areas:
1) bringing the national legislation into compliance with the WTO multilateral treaties;
2) market access for goods;
3) market access for services;
4) domestic support to agriculture.
Bringing the national legislation into compliance with the WTO agreements
A country acceding to the WTO shall implement the rules obligatory for every WTO member into the national legislation and comply with them.
Issues related to compliance of the national legislation with the WTO rules are considered during multilateral meetings of the Working Party on the Accession of Belarus to the WTO (the Working Party). A Working Party meeting may result in the decision by WTO members to proceed to the next stage of negotiations, depending on the demonstrated success in the process of bringing the national legislation in line with the WTO rules.
The Working Party on the accession of Belarus to the WTO:
|7||Chinese Taipei||30||New Zealand|
|12||Ecuador||36||Republic of Korea|
|14||El Salvador||38||Saudi Arabia|
|15||European Union||39||Sri Lanka|
|21||India||45||United States of America|
As a result of the efforts performed, the 8th and 9th formal Working Party meetings were held in January and September 2017 with the participation of more than 40 WTO members. At the 8th Working Party meeting it was decided to prepare the first edition of the Draft Working Party Report. The preparation of the first edition of the Draft Working Party Report means the transition to the final stage of negotiations.
Negotiations on market access for goods and services
Negotiations on market access for goods and services are conducted on a bilateral basis. During the negotiations on market access for goods the contracting parties agree on the maximum permissible rate of customs tariff, which the acceding country cannot exceed upon accession to the WTO. Negotiations on market access for services are performed with the aim to determine the maximum levels of restrictions on market access and exemptions from the national treatment obligations for foreign services and services suppliers.
So far, Belarus held over 40 rounds of bilateral negotiations with the Working Party members that resulted in concluding the final protocols with 16 WTO member-states. Six protocols were signed in 2017 with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Ecuador, Norway, Guatemala and El Salvador. In principle Belarus and Chinese Taipei agreed upon conclusion of their bilateral negotiations.
During 2016-2017 Belarus had intensive consultations with all interested WTO Member-States, including the European Union, the USA, Ukraine, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and other countries.
Belarus still must conclude bilateral negotiations on market access with 9 WTO members: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, USA, Switzerland, Ukraine and the European Union.
Domestic support to agriculture
Negotiations on domestic support to agriculture are held in the format of special multilateral meetings at which the parties determine the maximum level of state support to the agricultural sector that can be provided in Belarus after the WTO accession.
The latest revised version of the document on domestic support to the agricultural sector taking into account the WTO requirements was elaborated by Belarus in May 2017. The document was officially circulated among member states by the WTO Secretariat and reviewed at the special multilateral meeting on 12 September 2017. Currently, Belarus is reviewing the suggestions of the WTO Members resulting from the last meeting as concerns acceptance of concrete commitments in the area of domestic support of the agriculture.
In 2017 the Belarusian side updated the package of documents on the level of domestic support to agriculture, taking into account the requirements of the WTO. The document was circulated officially by the WTO Secretariat among the members of the organization.
In September 2017 the next special meeting on domestic support to agriculture was held formally. During the event, clarifications regarding the updated materials on domestic support to agriculture were given to the WTO members.
The previous formal meeting was held in 2005.