Questions of Russia's entry into WTO to be discussed in Brussels

On Friday Russia's Minister of Economic Development and Trade Gherman Gref and EU Commissar for Trade Pascal Lami will discuss in Brussels the questions of Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

As the Ministry's officials said on the day before, the differences on conditions for access of goods and services from Europe onto the Russian market will be the theme of the talks.

This week the Russian delegation, headed by Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Maxim Medvedkov, held bilateral consultations with the EU experts in Brussels. As a source in the Russian delegation said, agreement on many disputable questions was reached. According to him, "the list of the differences with the EU on commodities has been reduced to two positions". "The level of the tariff protection of Russian automobile- and aircraft-building remains unsettled", the source said. Seven-eight questions concerning the Russian market of services, including the financial and telecommunications ones, are also still undecided.

Maxim Medvedkov earlier expressed confidence that Russia would complete the talks with the EU before the end of spring. He recalled that at the Russia-EU summit in Rome the heads of state decided that Russia must join the WTO before the end of 2004.

The theme of the enlargement of the EU, which ten new member countries will enter from May 1 this year, may also be touched upon at today's meeting in Brussels. By the Economic Development Ministry's estimate, the Russian companies' losses from the EU's enlargement may run into 150 million dollars. This will be linked with an increase of the duties on import of Russian goods to the countries joining the EU, and the application of anti-dumping measures against Russia.

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