Belarus applied for the WTO membership in 1993.
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||35||Republic of Korea|
|14||El Salvador||37||Saudi Arabia|
|15||European Union||38||Sri Lanka|
|21||India||44||United States of America|
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 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 more than 30 rounds of bilateral negotiations with the Working Party members that resulted in concluding the final protocols with 12 WTO member- states. The latest protocols were signed with the Republic of Korea (April, 10 2017) and Japan (April 27, 2017). Belarus has narrowed the gap between the offered and the requested commitments on market access for goods and services. Belarus has also managed to narrow the list of demands deemed unacceptable by the Belarusian Side.
Belarus still has to conduct bilateral negotiations on market access with 13 WTO members: Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Norway, Salvador, USA, Switzerland, Ecuador, 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.
In 2014 the Government of Belarus revised the document on domestic support rendered to the agricultural sector taking into account the WTO requirements. The document was officially circulated among member states by the WTO Secretariat.
With due regard to the comments of the WTO member states the Belarusian Side is now preparing revised materials on domestic support to agriculture.
Belarus as the EAEU member de-facto has been fulfilling all the WTO obligations since 2012, since these obligations are the basis of the EAEU.
Current work on the accession of the Republic of Belarus to the WTO is performed in accordance with the priorities and guidelines given by the President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko during the meeting on 29 March 2016 on intensification of the negotiation process on Belarus’ to the WTO.
In pursuance of the given guidelines and to improve the work on Belarus’ accession to the WTO the structure of the Inter-Agency Commission on Belarus’ accession to the WTO was revised. Commission is governed by the First Deputy Prime-Minister of the Republic of Belarus. Besides the representatives of the Republican bodies of State Administration the Commission consists of the 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.
As a result of the conducted work the 8th formal Working Party meeting was held on 24 January 2017 after an 11-year break with the participation of more than 40 WTO members. In the course of the meeting the Elements of a Draft Report of the Working Party, Legislative Action Plan and some other documents were reviewed. During the meeting WTO members addressed a set of questions to the Belarusian delegation and were given relevant answers. Following the 8th meeting, Belarus was asked to prepare the first version of the Draft Report of the Working Party. It was agreed that WTO members will present the questions regarding particular aspects of the foreign trade regime of the Republic of Belarus in a written form. As soon as Belarus has responded to all the submitted questions, the first version of the Draft Working Party Report will be prepared and the next Working Party meeting will be held.
During 2016-2017 Belarus had intensive consultations with all interested WTO Member-States, including the European Union, the United States of America, Ukraine, the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Norway and other countries.