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RF’s joining WTO opens new stage of international integration

December 16, 2011, 12:26 UTC+3

“Russia has overcome mighty obstacles, and the negotiations have lasted for 18 yers,” Lukashevich said

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MOSCOW, December 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s joining the World Trade Organisation /WTO/ opens a qualitatively new stage of the country’s integration in the international economic system, spokesman of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Alexander Lukashevich said on Friday.

“Russia has overcome mighty obstacles, and the negotiations have lasted for 18 years,” he said. “We ahve approached the desired result.” After intergovernmental procedures, including ratification, Russia will become the WTO’s full-fledged member. “Finalising of this many-years and complicated negotiation process is an event of political importance, which is beneficial both for Russia and for our future counterparts,” Lukashevich said.

“Russia is joining the WTO on conditions answering its national interests,” he said.

“There are preconditions for further improvement of our business climate, for attraction of foreign investmens, for expanding of Russia’s export with simultaneous keeping of key industries of the national economy,” he said. “We are opening a qualitatively new stage of the country’s integration in the international economic system.”

Russia is sure that its admission in the WTO “will favour the integration processes in the framework of the Customs Union and the formation of the Eurasian economic union.”

At the same time, the diplomat said that Russia’s joining the WTO “will be beneficial for the organisation itself.”

“By admitting the only major state, which has been outside the multilateral trade system for a long time, the organisation will improve its status of a truly overwhelming cooperation platform,” Lukashevich said.

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 in Brussels on December 14-15.

A transitional period will begin after that and it may last for 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 have been going on for 18 years.

Russia’s accession to the WTO will also expand trade and economic partnership with the European Union and will accelerate negotiations 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 back in 1994.


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