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UNECE supports Belarus to implement the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

UNECE has launched a project to support Belarus in assessing its readiness to implement the measures in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), identify gaps, and draft a work plan to implement not yet fulfilled measures.

Any country aspiring to join the WTO now will have to implement the TFA. As Belarus is currently speeding up its WTO accession negotiations, ensuring the country’s readiness is a priority, and UNECE’s experience will support this process.

This will make a direct contribution to target 17.10 of the Sustainable Development Goals: promote a universal, rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization.

As requested by the Government of Belarus, a survey of regulatory agencies and business, as well as a draft assessment report supported by UNECE, should be finalized early in 2019, in order to take follow-up action in the process of Belarus’s negotiation of accession to WTO.

Belarus officials are still reviewing which measures have been fulfilled; for which measures they have the capacity to reach compliance but need more time, and for which measures they would need international assistance. The project will help the country make this assessment and prepare notifications to the WTO.

Many of these measures are included in the national legislation of Belarus, but after a review of all measures, the participants in the project’s opening seminar in Minsk on 12-13 December 2018 concluded that there were still areas where further implementation and development of necessary procedures was necessary. UNECE and WTO experts helped national experts realize the requirements for implementation and notification to the WTO secretariat, which WTO members (and acceding members) must fulfil. A validation seminar for the assessment report findings is planned to take place in Minsk in the first half of 2019.

The seminar highlighted that applying some of the trade facilitation measures depended upon legal acts, procedures and policies adopted on the level of the Eurasian Economic Union, and Belarus needs to collaborate on those legal acts with the other members of the Union, all of which are already WTO members.