Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia may still pursue unilateral WTO bids, official says

Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia may still pursue unilateral bids to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), Arkady Dvorkovich, economic aide to the Russian president, told reporters after the G8 summit in LAquila, Italy.

It has not yet been decided whether the countries will file a common application as a single customs union or will continue with unilateral bids, RIA Novosti quoted the presidential aide as saying.

"We have not entirely abandoned our hope [join the WTO as part of the Customs Union]. But our colleagues say that the process will take several years and we have to study the pros and cons," Mr. Dvorkovich said.

If the three countries decide to seek the membership as single states, they will file the applications simultaneously, he said, stressing that they would still go ahead with their plans to establish the Customs Union.

"Experts believe that joining the WTO as the Customs Union will be a problem," the official said. Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia in June announced plans to seek joint accession to the Organization. The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia is expected to come into existence on January 1, 2010.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putins announcement that Russia would seek the membership as part of the Customs Union is not workable and unacceptable, US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in Moscow on July 8.