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28 November 2011

Belarus, Russia to sign memorandum on WTO accession assistance 19 December

MINSK, 28 November (BelTA) – A memorandum on Russia’s assistance to Belarus with WTO accession will be signed in Moscow on 19 December, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas said when speaking in the House of Representatives. “This will contribute to the successful negotiations on Belarus’ accession to the WTO,” Sergei Rumas said. He noted that in January 2012, our working group will intensify negotiations on accession to the WTO. “Here Russia’s accession to the WTO will undoubtedly give a further impetus to the negotiations,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. He also noted that Belarus “is happy for Russian colleagues.” It does not hamper Russia's WTO accession process. Legal framework of the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space were originally built on the principles of the World Trade Organization. “Therefore, no contradictions will happen following the accession of Russia and then Kazakhstan to the WTO,” said Sergei Rumas. The only thing which will need to be done is to harmonize tariffs. The level of tariff protection on a number of products will be slightly weaker. Belarus received the lists from Russia - approximately 2,500 commodity positions. “According to our calculations, the average level of tariff protection in the course of seven years will be lowered from 10.7% to 8%,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. These lists include the commodity positions which are sensitive to Belarus. They are now being studied. "But given that Belarus also seeks the WTO membership, Russia's accession to that organization will undoubtedly facilitate the task for us," said Sergei Rumas. It is most likely that when joining the WTO Belarus will be guided by the tariffs that Russia will have agreed upon the accession to the Organization. If the level of tariff protection will be reduced in the course of the negotiating process, then all the countries of the Customs Union will be required to follow suit. Therefore it is in the interests of Russia and Kazakhstan to help, including at political level, early admission of Belarus to the WTO, maintain the tariffs on the level that has been agreed among the three countries. In addition, Russia's WTO accession provides that the trade between the countries of the Customs Union will be carried out in accordance with the existing legal framework, therefore there will be no changes for Belarus in the trade between Russia and Kazakhstan, said Sergei Rumas.