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Negotiations on Russia’s joining WTO are over at last

November 11, 2011, 12:42 UTC+3
Thursday put a full stop in the 18-year negotiations about Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organisation
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Thursday put a full stop in the 18-year negotiations about Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organisation. They were most long-term over the entire history of the organisation. The working group on Russia’s joining the WTO headed by Stephen Johanneson of Island announced officially about agreement of terms and conditions for Russia’s membership in the organisation.

Besides lowering duties, Russia will have to follow or join WTO’s inner agreements, the Kommersant writes. They deal with both certain markets, like with telecommunication services, and with entire institutions. Russia will from now on protect more actively intellectual property, ease customs procedures, transit of WTO cargo and later on will have to make state purchases fully transparent.

The document published on the WTO site reads that the RF undertakes responsibilities to speed up its integration into the world economy, the newspaper stresses. From the moment of joining /about summer of 2012/, Russia will be responsible for using fully all norms of the WTO, except for those agreed for a transition period. The responsibilities include provision of access for WTO partners to markets of goods and services according to 30 multilateral agreements on services and 57 agreements on trade markets. The markets will see lowering of trade barriers. Besides the tariff limitations, Russia joins or expresses intention to join a system of WTO multilateral agreements, which regulate international trade. From the moment of joining, the RF will use norms of the customs agreement on United system of preferences for developing countries.

The Komsomolskaya Pravda writes that on November 9 faded the last obstacle – Georgia and Russia /where Switzerland was a mediator, as the two countries do not have diplomatic relations/ signed a bilateral protocol stating that Tbilisi is not against Russia’s joining the WTO. The negotiations’ stumbling block referred to Russia’s supplies of goods to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, territories of which Georgia considers its own and would want to control the goods flow itself. Thus, Switzerland or some privately-owned company appointed by it will oversee the goods.

By this move, Georgia achieved what it had not been able to achieve even in the times where Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not recognised by Moscow, and where international peacekeepers stayed at their territories, the Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. The mandate of international observes has always been limited to a “conflict zone” in regions bordering Georgia. Never ever have there been any international observes at Psou or Rokski Pass. No doubts, an ‘independent’ Swiss company will not limit itself to trade turnover. Such companies are perfect ‘roofs’ for intelligence services. Now foreign spies will monitor quite legally, for example, transportation of military equipment to Russian bases.

The Rossiyskaya Gazeta publishes an interview with Director of trade negotiations Maxim Medvedkov, who has been working for ten years on problems of Russia’s joining the WTO. According to him, a major stage is passed, but this is not the end of the work. “We have many other important projects,” he said. “Now we shall focus on Russia’s joining the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development. Russia’ has also signed an agreement on free trade zone in the framework of the CIS. Now we are to launch it. There are several projects of the Customs Union, with the European Association of Free Trade, with New Zealand. As yet, we have not had sufficient resources to be dealing with it actively. Now everything will move forward. But the most important task is to provide following our responsibilities, implementation of our rights in the WTO. This also requires preparations.”

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