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WASHINGTON, November 6 (Itar-Tass) —— The United States has hailed an agreement reached between Moscow and Tbilisi that opens the way for Russia’s accession of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United States Department of State said in a release on Saturday, November 5.
“The United States applauds the announcement that the Governments of Russia and Georgia have come to agreement on an arrangement for monitoring trade between their two countries,” Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
“We would like to highlight the outstanding assistance provided by the Government of Switzerland, which has helped the parties develop and finalize this agreement,” she added.
Also on Saturday, Maxim Medvedkov, the head of the Russian delegation to the talks on Russia’s accession of the World Trade Organization and director of trade negotiations department of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, told Itar-Tass that the Russian and Georgian delegations to the talks had initialed a bilateral agreement on customs administration and trade monitoring.
According to Medvedkov, it is planned to sign the agreement on November 9. Apart from that, also on Saturday, the delegations of the two countries agreed outstanding “elements of the report of the working group on Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization.”
Until recently, the only stumbling block on the path of Russia’s accession of the World Trade Organization – the process has been in progress for 18 years – was Georgia’s position. Tbilisi’s demands centered round customs points on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian section of the border with Russia. This week, the Russian and Georgian delegations reached an accord on the draft agreement that was initialed on Saturday.
A final official meeting of the working group on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization will be held on November 10 in the WTO headquarters in Geneva. It is expected that all the members of the working group (more than 60 states) will approve a package of documents on Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization, including the working group’s report, Russia’s obligations in respect of goods and services, an accession protocol, and a draft resolution of the General Council of the World Trade Organization. After that, these documents will be submitted to a WTO ministerial conference scheduled for December 15 through 17.
Among the outstanding report’s provisions to be squared are five issues concerning industrial car assembly and access to the Russian market for high-quality beef.
As of now, the World Trade Organization comprises 153 nations, which account for 95 percent of the global trade turnover. Russia filed a membership application back in 1994.