Russia Set to Join WTO in 2011 after Formal EU Approval

Bulgaria in EU | December 7, 2010, Tuesday // 16:54|  views

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (C) is welcomed by EC President Jose Manuel Barroso (R) and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy (L) prior to the EU-Russia Summit. EPA/BGNES

The European Union has formally agreed to Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization after the two parties conducted intensive talks in the recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the EU Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, and Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina signed a memorandum of understanding on the issue of Russia's WTO accession. The signing occurred as part of the EU-Russia Summit held in Brussels.

Over the last couple of months the EU and Russia on Tuesday finalized a "milestone" deal enabling Russia's accession to the WTO.

The memorandum of understanding settled the issued making the EU veto Russia's WTO admission to date.

"We have achieved a breakthrough in Russia's WTO accesion on which the Commission has been working very hard. This is really a milestone. Our difficult bilateral issues are resolved. We signed a memorandum of understanding to this end today," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso declared.

He called Russian hopes for formally joining the WTO in 2011 – as declared by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin - "a realistic prospective."

Russia has been bidding to join the WTO since 1993, it is the only major global economy that does not belong to the organization. Its accession requires the agreement of all 153 members of the WTO.

After securing EU's agreement, Russia appears to have made the last big step towards WTO membership. In September, Russia got the approval of the US after long-term disputes.

On the table were a host of issues, led by Russian export taxes on raw materials, especially timber. EU officials concede that Russia could be delayed by the long list of WTO rules with which it must comply, including canceling state-aid programs, unfair health rules for farm imports and weak enforcement of intellectual property rights. The EU is Russia's single largest trading partner.

As part of the EU-Russia Summit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was welcomed by Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

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Tags: Russia, WTO, EU, Dmitry Medvedev, World Trade Organization, Herman van Rompuy, EC President, Jose Manuel Barroso


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