Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus suspend WTO entry talks
Maxim Medvedkov   /  Photo: www.ng.ru

Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus suspend WTO entry talks

18 Jun, 02:43 PM

The delegations of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, who have been working in Geneva, have suspended World Trade Organization entry talks, Russian website Gazeta.ru reports.

Russia and its ex-Soviet allies held consultations with World Trade Organization (WTO) members in Geneva on Wednesday about the possible format of accession negotiations between the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan and the WTO, Maxim Medvedkov, the chief Russian negotiator for WTO accession, said.

"The Russian, Belarusian, and Kazakh delegations had an informal meeting with representatives of about 60 to 70 WTO member-states," Medvedkov said.     

The members of the emerging Customs Union informed the WTO member-states about the union and its intention to join the WTO, he said.     

"The discussion was quite tough," Medvedkov said. 

A number of countries suggested that this move could "significantly slow down the accession process, as there have been no precedents of customs unions' joining the WTO," he said.     

In  addition, a number of countries pointed out that, in line with WTO regulations, only customs unions mandated to regulate all trade relations falling under the WTO remit can negotiate their entry to the organization, he said. These relations must therefore concern both goods and services. The Customs Union being formed by Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan regulates only trade in goods.     

"There was a proposal for putting together a task force to examine how much the Customs Union complies with the WTO regulations," Medvedkov said.

Russia and its ex-Soviet allies Kazakhstan and Belarus are exploring different options for joining the World Trade Organisation as a customs union, amid legal uncertainties, Medvedkov said Wednesday.

Russia would come up with proposals on how to proceed, while safeguarding what has been agreed in individual negotiations so far. It would take weeks rather than months, he told reporters after briefing WTO members on the proposal.

Kazakhstan's chief WTO negotiator Zhanar Aitzhanova said WTO accession remained a key economic priority for the three states.

"All three countries have suspended bilateral and multilateral WTO accession negotiations until we find a common decision with WTO members on how we can accede to the World Trade Organisation... as a customs union or single customs territory," she told reporters.

 

Tags: Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, WTO,

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