Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

Expert warns over Belarus' WTO entry bid

Republic of Belarus stands no chance to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if its economic model does not change, Heorhiy Hryts, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Association, said at an international forum in Minsk on Friday.

The expert referred to the foreign ministry's statement that in an "optimistic scenario" Belarus would be able to join the global trade body in two years' time.

"If we speak in realistic terms, if the current situation regarding the economy remains unchanged, it will never happen," he predicted.

Referring to a US diplomat, Mr. Hryts said that Belarus' would be able to join the WTO only after it received the status of market economy.

Russia became a WTO member this past August and Kazakhstan is likely to join the organization in 2013, which means that the two countries may view WTO rules and requirements as a greater priority than their customs union with Belarus, the expert warned.

"Russia has already made changes to its tariff policy. Moreover, the European Union has de facto demanded that Russia quit the Customs Union or disavow its importance, and this is a fairly worrying development," he said.

The Belarusian government's claim that the country would be an attractive investment destination following the establishment of the Customs Union is proving wrong, Mr. Hryts said.