On January 23, Minsk hosted the final workshop within the fourth phase of the joint project of the UNDP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus “Assisting the Government of the Republic of Belarus in Accession to the World Trade Organization through Strengthening National Institutional Capacity and Expertise” with the participation of experts from the Secretariat of the WTO.
The workshop on "Application of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures in the context of the accession of Belarus to the WTO" was the eleventh in a series of workshops on Belarus' accession to the WTO, as well as the fourth, held jointly with the experts from the WTO Secretariat” - said Ph.D. Maksim Hubski, the Project manager, in his welcoming speech to the participants of the workshop.
Mr. Vladimir Serpikov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, Head of the negotiating delegation of the Republic of Belarus on Belarus' accession to the WTO, mentioned that the subject of the sanitary measures within the WTO is one of the most sensitive issues on the experience of the neighboring Russia and Kazakhstan.
"This sphere is of great importance to our national economy, however, our partners put forward very strict requirements, and our aim is to find solutions that will comply with the national interests, and at the same time satisfy the requirements of the WTO members." – concluded Mr. Serpikov.
The integration of Belarus into the world processes of globalization is an important component of the country's policies in all areas, including in the health sector. Food safety is one of the priority areas for the Ministry of Health, which is actively involved in the negotiation process.
"Our country is focused on the export of food that makes a significant contribution to the economy. In this regard, the accession to the WTO is an extremely important task. In our country, a strict monitoring system of food production operates at all stages - from the field to consumer table, and we observe the principle "Integrated health". It is highly important that today's workshop gathered the representatives of science, education, regional organizations of the State Committee for sanitary oversight, as well as colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and State Committee for standardization."- said Ms. Natalia Zhukova, Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Republic of Belarus.
Mr. Rolando Alkala, The Specialist of the Department of Agriculture and Commodities of the WTO Secretariat, thanked the Belarusian side for broad representation, and outlined that the main purpose of the workshop is to understand what rights and obligations are governed by the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, how to get prepared for food export in the WTO, which safety measures have to be complied with, and to consider the options for dealing with trade issues and disputes related to SPS measures.
Dimitar Bratanov, the specialist of the Accession Department of the WTO Secretariat acknowledged the significant negotiation work of the Belarusian team, which took just one year, among other efforts thanks to the workshops and trainings in the framework of the UNDP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs joint project.
"There is a high probability that Belarus will join the WTO within 1.5 - 2 years", - concluded the expert and wished good luck to all participants.
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.