It will take at least one year for Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO ) as a single customs union, RIA Novosti quoted Maksim Medvedkov, a departmental chief at the Russian economic development ministry, as saying.
"These processes can be completed within a reasonable and short period,"Mr. Medvedkov said. "Certainly, they will not be completed by the end of the year or in a year. But they will not take many years but rather many months."
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia in June announced plans to seek joint accession to the Organization. The Customs Union, perhaps, will not have to wait until July 2011, when its formation is scheduled to be finalized, to file a joint application for membership in the WTO, Mr. Medvedkov said.
"When considering membership bids, the WTO pays attention to two things – provisions of the applicant’s laws and the enforcement of the laws," the official said. "Now, we can already talk about laws, as a legal framework for the Union, which governs the import and export of goods, has already been signed. Some 20 agreements were inked within the framework of the Customs Union, with a significant part of them ratified. So, perhaps, we will not have to wait until 2011."
When asked to comment on the opinion of some experts that the Customs Union will not be able to join the WTO in the next 10 or 12 years, Mr. Medvedkov said, "It is only one of possible scenarios."
The head of the WTO, Pascal Lamy, earlier expressed confusion over the joint membership bid and said that it was unclear whether Russia could join the body in that form.
The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia is expected to come into existence on January 1, 2010.