March 24, 2022
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States, the European Union and largely western allies have blocked Belarus’ bid to join the World Trade Organization, saying its complicity in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it unfit for membership in the global trade group.
G7 countries and allies have already stripped Moscow of its privileged trade treatment at the WTO, known as “most favoured nation” status, clearing the way for them to hit Russian imports with higher tariffs or ban them entirely.
The western group halted work on Belarus’ WTO accession process after President Alexander Lukashenko crushed protests following his 2020 re-election that opponents say was fraudulent.
The group on Thursday said in a document filed at the WTO that it strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, enabled by Belarus. Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation,” has used Belarusian territory to launch its attack.
“We condemn Belarus for its complicity in Russia’s aggression, which is incompatible with the values and principles of the WTO and of a just rules-based order,” the filing said.
“For these reasons, we have concluded that Belarus is unfit for WTO membership. We will not further consider its application for accession,” the filing said.
The group’s members include Albania, Australia, Britain, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, South Korea and Ukraine.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Mark Porter)