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 (became a WTO Member on August 22, 2012), are the basis of the EAEU legislation.
In order to conduct accession negotiations an Interministerial Commission on Belarus’ accession to the WTO under the auspices of the Council of Ministries of the Republic of Belarus was set up following the entering into force of the Edict of the President of the Republic of Belarus of July 27, 1999 ¹ 439.
According to the Resolution of the Council of Ministries of the Republic of Belarus of August 27, 1999 ¹ 1338 the Regulations of the Interministerial Commission were adopted. The Interministerial Commission 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.
Since 2016 the Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Serpikov, has acted 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) agreeing on commitments of the level of state support of 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|
A Working Party meeting takes decision on the readiness to proceed to the next stage of negotiations. The stages of negotiations are foreseen by the WTO rules and represent a sequence of approval of negotiation documents: Memorandum – Check List – Factual Summary – draft Working Party Report.
Since 2017 accession negotiations in this area have reached their final stage – consideration of the draft Working Party Report. The 12th Working Party meeting took place on July 11, 2019. The Belarusian delegation was led by the First Deputy Prime-Minister of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Turchin.
Negotiations on market access for goods and services
Negotiations on market access on goods and services are conducted on a bilateral basis with interested WTO Members, who can initiate such negotiations at any stage of the accession process up to the stage of accession commitments’ consolidation.
At the negotiations on market access on goods the parties agree on the maximum permissible rate of customs tariff, which the acceding country cannot exceed as of the date of accession to the WTO, as well as tariff rate quotas for certain goods.
Negotiations on market access on services are conducted with the aim to determine the schedule of permissible limitations on market access and the national treatment for foreign services and services suppliers, as well as exemptions from most-favored nation regime.
So far, Belarus finalized bilateral negotiations on market access with: Moldova (3 June 2005), Cuba (24 November 2005), China (5 December 2005), Armenia (15 December 2005), Turkey (17 December 2005), Kyrgyzstan (24 November 2006), India (16 April 2007), Panama (16 October 2007), Dominican Republic (26 November 2007), Republic of Korea (10 April 2017), Japan (27 April 2017), Ecuador (12 September 2017), Norway (5 December 2017), Guatemala (12 December 2017), El Salvador (12 December 2017), Iceland (11 May 2018), Chinese Taipei (21 May 2018), Argentina (14 September 2018) and Switzerland (14 December 2018).
Negotiations are ongoing with another 8 WTO Members.
State support in agriculture
Negotiations on state support in 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 special meeting on state support in agriculture was held on July 10, 2019. During the event, the level of state support proposed by Belarus was discussed, clarifications on the qualifying questions of the WTO Members were given.