28 Feb 2024 11:06

Belarus urges WTO to revisit accession procedure

MINSK. Feb 28 (Interfax) - Belarus has urged the World Trade Organization (WTO) to mind the negative impact of sanctions on trade and revisit the accession procedure, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry's press service said on Tuesday.

Ministry representative Yury Gorelik urged the WTO at the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi "not to overlook the problem of the negative impact of numerous sanctions on trade, international logistics, and global food security."

"The need to revisit the procedure for accession to the WTO and the approach to technical assistance to acceding states was underlined," the press service said.

Gorelik underlined the importance of the WTO's technical assistance in the successful finalization of the negotiation process and the need for non-discriminatory provision of technical assistance.

Gorelik called on all acceding states "not to remain silent, but to present a united front" on problems encountered in the accession process. The period of accession by current WTO observers averages 20 years, the maximum period is 37 years in the case of Algeria, he said.

"The accession process should not take so long, if the WTO seeks to be effective and inclusive," Gorelik said.

An updated edition of the Belarusian government's action plan for the period until 2025 has been published to declare the discarding of plans to join the WTO in the near future.

"The item 'Participation in a multilateral trade system based on the WTO, harmonization of national law with the WTO obligations, and the Republic of Belarus's accession to the WTO taking into account national interests' shall be excluded," the updated action plan says.

In 1993, Belarus applied to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO predecessor. In 2016, amid warming relations with the European Union and the United States, the Belarusian government intensified efforts to join the WTO. However, as Western countries accused Belarus of rigging the 2020 presidential election, the negotiations on Belarus's future WTO membership were suspended.

In March 2022, a group of WTO member states issued a statement declaring their decision to halt the consideration of Belarus's application to join the organization. Fourteen WTO members signed the statement. They explained the move by Minsk's support to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine.