Joining the WTO can meet the interests of Belarusian companies oriented to domestic markets

May 25, 2017

The seminar "Protocol on accession to the WTO as a source of international obligations and the basis for legal protection in the Dispute Resolution Authority" was held in Minsk on May 23.

"The WTO language is the language of international trade and business. Today more than 160 countries speak this language. Integration into this system will open new opportunities for Belarus in the field of trade and economic regulation, will help to become more understandable and predictable for investors, and strengthen positions on foreign markets,”said Olga Kazakevich, the head of the WTO and Unification of Trade Regimes for Managing Foreign Trade Policy unit of the Department of Foreign Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.

Today, the WTO, is not so much about the rules governing the foreign trade in goods, not so much about the rules that are aimed at moving goods across borders - these are the rules that are aimed primarily at internal regulation. WTO rules today permeate all spheres of economic activity of the state.

"When we talk about companies that are oriented to the domestic market, not export-oriented, or emerging companies and industries, who see the WTO as predominantly risky (since accession imposes certain obligations on the state, including subsidies), it is important to note that all these issues directly depend on the conditions of accession. Within the framework of negotiations, there is a certain freedom to maneuver, to work out these conditions properly. Therefore, it is incorrect to say that accession to the WTO is not in the interests of companies that are oriented to domestic markets," - said Doctor of Law Anahit Smbatyan, the speaker of the seminar, the head of the expert department of the "Center for Expertise on WTO Issues" (Russian Federation).

Many WTO rules and regulatory instruments have no analogues in domestic national systems, as well as in international law. Many instruments were created in 1947 and formed based on the experience of WTO disputes resolution. The national industry will certainly benefit, if you learn to use these tools, because participation in the WTO dispute mechanism not only allows you to win disputes, but also to change the rules of international trade through the interpretation of WTO rules. In particular, it gives an opportunity to participate directly in multilateral negotiations and the development of new rules for international trade.

"The WTO is first and foremost an opportunity. WTO agreements provide countries with hundreds of tools. If we learn to use them, it will strengthen the economy and enhance the international standing of the state," - concluded Anahit Smbatyan.

About 100 representatives of the state administration, business community and academia attended the seminar.

"The practice-oriented program of the seminar allowed the participants to understand the formulation of the conditions for WTO membership, the relationship between the terms of accession to the WTO and the specific provisions of the WTO Agreement, and formulation of concessions in the field of access to the markets for goods and services," - said Maxim Gubsky, the manager of UNDP-Russian Federation project "Assisting the Government of the Republic of Belarus in Accession to the World Trade Organization through Strengthening National Institutional Capacity and Expertise (Phase 4)”.

The workshop is organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Belarus and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus in the framework of the project "Assisting the Government of the Republic of Belarus in Accession to the World Trade Organization through Strengthening National Institutional Capacity and Expertise (Phase 4)". The project is funded by the Government of the Russian Federation.    

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