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US Department of Commerce launches revision of Belarusian economy status

On February 6, 2020, the US Department of Commerce's official press organ, the Federal Register, published a notice of the US Department of Commerce about the start of the analysis of the changed circumstances in order to check whether the Republic of Belarus is a country with a non-market economy.

Within a month interested parties are to submit their comments on Belarus in such areas as foreign exchange transactions, investment regime, labor relations, state property, progress in negotiations on accession to the WTO, etc.

After considering all the comments of the parties, the US Department of Commerce is to make a decision on the advisability of holding a public hearing on the issue of transferring the Republic of Belarus to the category of market economies. Final results on this issue may be published in November 2020.

It is necessary to recall that the status of a “country with a non-market economy” was automatically inherited by Belarus after the collapse of the USSR. This status allows the US Government to apply restrictive customs and tariff measures to certain types of Belarusian products to protect American enterprises, which make its export economically inexpedient.

So, when calculating the antidumping duty for a “country with a non-market economy,” the price of the goods is determined based not on the normal conditions of that country, but on the basis of the conditions of a specially selected analogue country, which makes it possible to establish an overcharged size.

Earlier, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania successfully approuved their economic status.

In October 2019, the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus concluded an agreement with Crowell & Moring on legally support of the process of transferring the Republic of Belarus from the status of a country with a non-market economy to the status of a country with a market economy.

In December 2019, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Belarus, an initial application has been sent to the United States Department of Commerce to initiate a review of the status of the Belarusian economy with the provision of the necessary arguments.

The US Department of Commerce considered that the Government of Belarus provided sufficient evidence to launch the process of revision of Belarusian economy status

The Republic of Belarus proceeds from the understanding that the Belarusian economic policy has been consistent with market principles for many years, so the revision of the status of our economy by the US Department of Commerce must formally confirm that there is a de-facto exists.

Granting Belarus the status of a country with a market economy will eliminate discriminatory methods of calculating protective duty rates, avoid unreasonably overstating them in relation to Belarusian products in the United States and help to increase Belarusian exports to the United States.

In addition to the obvious economic benefits, in the context of the normalization of Belarusian-American relations, a positive solution to this issue will have serious image advantages for our country in the international trade system.

In addition, obtaining the status of a market economy in US bodies will contribute to the formation of non-discriminatory obligations of Belarus when joining the WTO.