MOSCOW, November 11 (Itar-Tass) —— Chief Russian WTO negotiator Maxim Medvedkov believes Kazakhstan is likely to become the next party of the Customs Union to join the World Trade Organization and Belarus would follow suit.
“Members of the Union will join the WTO not as a regional organization but separately,” Medvedkov told Russia Today TV channel on Thursday. “Most likely Kazakhstan will be the next country while Belarus will join the WTO some time later. I know both countries have serious intentions and Russia will support their drive as it also needs them in the WTO framework,” he said.
Medvedkov said enterprises which export steel and chemical products will profit most from the Russian accession to the WTO. However “in the final end it will benefit everyone as in the global economy where we all live there is no sense in preserving customs borders. Protecting the markets with customs duties does not always play a positive role. However even after the admission to the WTO we shall not cancel duties which will be preserved at a level necessary for the creation of favorable conditions for our industry,” Medvedkov said.
The negotiator said the most difficult issues were the natural gas and agriculture. Russia was urged to take on commitments that would raise domestic gas prices. “We could not accept that and we succeeded to agree on other circumstances which will not affect the prices inside Russia,” he said.
A compromise was also reached on agricultural issues. “It allows us to increase financial support to farms during a five-year transition period. In five years we shall return to the current level of subsidies. It will help us modernize Russian agriculture,” Medvedkov said.
Russia is expected to officially join the WTO in the middle of 2012.