Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have abandoned their attempt to join the World Trade Organization as a single customs union, after WTO members made clear that the unprecedented move would add years to the negotiations, the Financial Times reported.
After talks at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Maksim Medvedkov, Russia's veteran WTO negotiator, said that the three countries would continue their separate membership talks. However, they would negotiate on the basis of a common customs tariff that is due to be implemented from the beginning of next year, with the aim of joining the WTO simultaneously.
"Today we are back in business," Mr. Medvedkov said. "The earliest completion of accession remains a strategic goal."
The three states are to start consultations with members from Friday as they await a formal resumption of negotiations, the Reuters said.
Many officials from WTO members think that the effort to yoke the three candidacies will simply delay the process further and it may yet prove impossible for the three to join at the same time, it said.
The three countries announced plans to establish the customs union, which is to create a single market of 165 million people, this past June.