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MINSK, March 29. /TASS/. President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has expressed doubts over the need for the country to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"The key question is whether we need it amid the current challenging environment," Lukashenko said at a meeting on Belarus-WTO cooperation Tuesday.
"We’re being vigorously spurred into it", despite the recent talks that Belarus "was not wanted there," he said, adding that this does not mean the country has obtained "well-wishers" in the bloc. According to the president, the recent formation of two powerful unions in the west and in the east (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership) has made the World Trade Organization irrelevant. "Some of my colleagues say the WTO has virtually run out of steam," Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian economy is open and export-dependent, he said, adding though that it is still an open question whether the country’s producers will be able to adjust to the organization’s terms, lacking most non-tariff regulation and state aid rules.
"The WTO accession should be not an end in itself, and national interests need to be respected," Lukashenko said. "We have to take into consideration" the fact that the country’s two key allies - Russia and Kazakhstan - have already entered the trade bloc, he added.
Belarus applied for WTO membership in 1993.