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Russia hopes for successful end of WTO talks by yearend – Medvedev

October 30, 2011, 19:28 UTC+3

The position of Georgia – the only country impeding the Russian membership in the trade organization – is a substantial obstacle

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GORKI, October 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia hopes for the successful completion of the negotiations on its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) by the end of this year, President Dmitry Medvedev told Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, who mediates the process, on Sunday.

“Certainly, we will discuss bilateral relations. We also wish to discuss the Russian accession to the WTO,” he said. Medvedev thanked Calmy-Rey for the mediating efforts Switzerland had been taking to assist the Russian entry into the WTO.

Hopefully, today’s discussion will be fruitful and will allow Russia to become a WTO member state by the end of this year, Calmy-Rey said. “We wish that too,” Medvedev responded.

The final informal round of consultations of the Working Group on the Russian entry into the WTO is scheduled for November 7-8. A list of commodities and services, including commitments to farmers, and the Working Group report were approved last week. The report and the commitments will lay down the foundation of the final document on the Russian accession process, which had been on for several years. The industrial assembly of vehicles remains an unsolved problem.

The schedule of Russia’s entry into the WTO, which was approved in July, is being been fulfilled. According to this schedule, the final formal meeting of the Working Group will take place in Geneva on November 10-11 and the negotiations will end by the ministerial conference due on December 15-17.

The position of Georgia – the only country impeding the Russian membership in the trade organization – is a substantial obstacle.

The WTO was established on January 1, 1995, as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) that had been operating since 1947. This is the only international body supervising world trade. The WTO has the status of a UN specialized agency. It is headquartered in Geneva.

The WTO has 153 members at present. Negotiations on the admission of a new member are held within the working group, which unites countries that have unsettled trade problems with the candidate.

As a rule, negotiations focus on four areas: accessibility to the goods market, agriculture, accessibility to the market of services, and systemic matters. The candidate must bring its national laws in correspondence with the WTO rules. Two-thirds of votes of WTO members are sufficient for the admission of a new member. Regularly, the accession process takes a decade.

Russia applied for membership in the WTO in December 1994. The number of its negotiating partners kept growing through the years, and the latest working group had 58 members – the largest working group ever in the entire history of the WTO. Six-year negotiations with the United States were the most difficult for Russia (the bilateral protocol was signed on November 19, 2006). The negotiations with the European Union also lasted for six years (the protocol was signed on May 21, 2004). Full consent was reached with the United States and the EU in the second half of 2010, and Russian officials said that Moscow was able to become a WTO member by the end of 2011.

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