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Singing of protocol on Russia’s accession to dominate WTO ministerial meeting

December 15, 2011, 2:30 UTC+3

The talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO ended in Geneva on November 10, 2011

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GENEVA, December 15 (Itar-Tass) —— The signing of the protocol on Russia’s admission to the Wold Trade Organisation (WTO) will the main event at the upcoming ministerial meeting of the WTO member states to open in Geneva on Thursday, December 15.

All binding documents are expected to be signed on December 16 in the presence of Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina.

The talks on Russia’s accession to the WTO ended in Geneva on November 10, 2011. The working group of 62 WTO members (with the EU as one member) gave a preliminary approval to a set of documents on Russia’s admission. The documents reflect the results of the talks conducted by Russia with 57 WTO member states on goods and with 30 WTO members on services, as well as the results of multilateral talks on systemic obligations. After approval, Russia will have 220 days to ratify the documents.

Russia will become a full member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the summer of next year at the earliest, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said.

“The agreement on Russia’s accession to the WTO will be signed at a WTO ministerial conference in Geneva on December 16. Ratification of this document will begin after that. At best, Russia will become a full member of the WTO by the summer of next year,” Chizhov said ahead of the Russia-EU summit to be held in Brussels on December 14-15.

A transitional period will begin after that and it may last 5-7 years in some sectors.

“Accession to the WTO will lead to a decrease in trade tariffs and to expansion of Russia’s foreign trade,” the diplomat said.

He believes that “on the whole, accession to the World Trade Organisation will benefit Russia”.

Russia is the world’s biggest economy that is not a WTO member. Negotiations on Russia’s admission to the WTO has been going on for 18 years.

Russia’s accession to the WTO will also expand trade and economic partnership with the European Union and accelerate talks on a new agreement on strategic partnership, Chizhov said earlier.

“Russia’s accession to the WTO in December of this year will lead to considerable expansion of trade and economic partnership with the EU,” he said.

The EU is the number one trade partner of Russia while Russia ranks third among the EU’s trade partners, Chizhov said.

“This [Russia’s accession to the WTO] will also step up work on the agreement on strategic partnership between Russia and the EU, the talks on which have been going on for the fourth consecutive year,” the diplomat said.

Russia may become a member of the World Trade Organisation before the end of the year, its Director-General Pascal Lamy said earlier.

For the first time in about ten years that he has been dealing with Russia's admission to the WTO, Lamy seems to be truly hopeful that the country's admission to the organisation is real as never before, he said.

“We should cover the remaining distance quickly, without creating big problems for communication with our leading partners in the EU. I hope that the government will find such compromise,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier.

“We believe it necessary to intensify our efforts to join the WTO,” he said.

Medvedev said Russia would use the shortest way possible to join the WTO. He said the form of accession was less important.

Usually, admission to the WTO takes about 10 years. The WTO has 153 member states, which account for 95 percent of the world's trade turnover. Russia filed an application for admission in 1994.


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