Russia enters next round of WTO talks

The next round of talks on Russia's accession the World Trade Organisation is opening in Geneva on Monday. The Russian delegation is being led by Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Maksim Medvedkov.

Mr Medvedkov told RIA Novosti earlier that the talks would last a week. Informal expert discussions will take place early in the week, while the working group will hold a meeting on April 1-2.

The Russian delegation has already presented issues for discussion:

- 10 chapters of the working group's final report. The reports includes issues of vital importance for Russia like technical trade barriers, veterinary and sanitary control, domestic market protection measures, customs unions in free trade zones, special economic zones and various aspects of trade and customs laws.

The Russian delegates will also hold a series of bilateral talks with WTO member-countries on the access of certain goods and services to the Russian market.

Agricultural issues will dominate the informal discussions. Mr Medvedkov said in earlier statements that Russia was nearing the completion of talks on agriculture with the European Union.

"There are three to four product items, on which we are yet to come to an agreement, and we will hopefully do it," said Mr Medvedkov.

Talks with the EU on industrial products are under way. The parties have not reached final agreement on import tariffs on aircraft and automobiles, according to the deputy minister. Russia is seeking higher tariffs for the transition period to protect domestic producers.

As to energy prices, Mr Medvedkov said Russia was paving the way for a political decision on the matter.

"It is hard to say what this decision will be like. Russia and the European Commission have their proposals, which we will exchange sooner or later and will try to reach a compromise," said Mr Medvedkov.

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