Klebanov Backs Russia's WTO Membership Provided Russian Industries' Interests Are Heeded

Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Science, and Technology Ilya Klebanov believes that it is necessary for Russia to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). At the same time, speaking at the Central Federal District Council meeting in Moscow on Friday, the deputy prime minister said that Russia should soundly protect interests of the Russian industrial sector by way of tariffs and customs policies as it enters the WTO. Mr. Klebanov reminded council meeting participants of China, which carried out lengthy negotiations on its membership in the WTO. For instance, Chinese WTO talks with the United States lasted 9 years. The deputy prime minister stressed that Russia should not fear competition on international markets, but at the same time such industries as, for example, car manufacturing should be preserved. "Russian membership in the WTO should be based on a balance of such interests," Mr. Klebanov highlighted. He added that the ministry that he is heading is "changing the style of work" to accommodate this issue. The deputy prime minister said that the problem of Russia's membership in the WTO generates a rather complicated discussion in society, which includes "criticism of the government." Meantime, Mr. Klebanov believes that Russia will not benefit if it remains outside the WTO and slows down the process of joining this organisation.