Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Belarus will have to join WTO, expert says

Naviny.by / BelaPAN

Belarus will have to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), Iryna Tachytskaya, research director of the Minsk-based Privatization and Management Institute, a think tank, said at a workshop in Minsk on October 8.

"We will be forced to become a member of the WTO regardless of whether or not it will bring us benefits," she said. "We are a member of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Zone, and the blocs have made a decision, which has been ratified by our countries' parliaments, that international agreements have precedence over national laws."

Belarus will have to join the WTO because it relies heavily on exports, according to the economist.

"We export many goods and not being a member of the WTO costs us dear," Ms. Tachytskaya explained. "Being not a member of the global trade body, we find ourselves outside the legal framework that exists in the entire world."

Membership of the WTO would allow Belarus to export its goods to more countries, said Iryna Kalesnikava, an economist with the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences. "Our goods are mostly exported to Russia at present. Joining the WTO would make it possible to expand the area where our goods are sold," she said.

Referring to a recent survey, Ms. Tachytskaya noted that most Belarusian exporters advocated the country's accession to the WTO.

The expert added that Russia could help Belarus with holding WTO entry talks. "Russia has a vast experience of negotiations and good negotiators," she said.

Russia became a member of the WTO in August 2012. Kazakhstan, another member of the Customs Union, plans to join the organization before 2015.