US Paves Way for Russia's WTO Accession

World | October 1, 2010, Friday // 18:54|  views

A White House handout photo made available on 25 June shows US President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia riding together for lunch to Ray's Hellburger in Arlington, Virginia, USA, 24 June 2010. EPA/BGNES

The USA and Russia have settled their disagreements paving the way for the latter's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), announced Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.

"We have managed to do this - all questions with the United States have been resolved. Today I am able to say that we have concluded all questions with the U.S. about Russia's entry into the WTO, and now the main task is wrapping up talks with the working group in Geneva," Kudrin said during the "Yalta European Strategy" in Yalta, Ukraine, as cited by RIA Novosti.

In his words, Russia's preparation to join the WTO will take 2-4 months, meaning that the largest economy still outside the global trading agreement will most likely join in 2011.

Even though average WTO accession talks take about 5-7 years, Russia has been negotiating its joining since 1993.

The breakthrough in US-Russian talks on the WTO accession has been interpreted as an important demonstration of the reset of the bilateral relations, a policy espoused by US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev.

During a meeting outside Washington in June, Medvedev and Obama agreed to complete talks on Russia's accession as quickly as possible, with Medvedev suggesting they could be completed by the end of September.

US-Russian negotiations for Russia's joining the global trade body have dragged on over disputes over agricultural trade and subsidies and copyright issues, and have additionally been stalled by political and diplomatic problems. Recently passed Russian laws against CD and DVD piracy have been hailed as a promising step in rectifying the piracy issue.

Another complication occurred in June 2009, when Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan notified the WTO of their intention to join the organization as a customs union. Four months later, they said they would resume talks on WTO accession separately, but from synchronized positions.

A WTO spokesman cited by the Wall Street Journal said the group has received no formal notification from Russia or the U.S. about reaching a bilateral agreement. Russian PM Vladimir Putin recently said he expected his country to join the WTO after January 1, 2011.

The WSJ points out that Russia's accession could still face opposition by another WTO member, Georgia, which is political conflict with Russia that grew after their brief war in August 2008.

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Tags: Russia, USA, US, Dmitry Medvedev, Barack Obama, Alexei Kudrin, WTO, World Trade Organization, WTO accession, Georgia, copyright laws


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