Results of Geneva negotiations on Russia's joining WTO

Another round of negotiations on Russia's joining the World Trade Organisation /WTO/ that finished on Wednesday in Geneva shows good prospects for further discussion of this issue, Russia's Deputy Economy Minister Maksim Medvedkov said when giving comments on the round.

He believes, Russian Vice Premier Alexei Kudrin's visit to Geneva, including his meeting with WTO Director General Panitchpakdi Supachai and participation in a meeting of the working group on Russia's joining the organisation, has played a crucial part in this development.

The group-members and its Chairman Kare Brina /Norway/ "appreciated Kudrin's speech", according to Medvedkov. They believe, the Vice Premier "gave a powerful impetus for efficient continuation of these negotiations" by clearly defining the government's priorities and Russia's abilities in issues of joining the WTO.

At the meeting the group-members decided to intensify preparation of its final report by highlighting certain issues, including the Russian side's corresponding liabilities.

Coordination of the intense cooperation programme for the first quarter of 2003 has become one of the round's important results, the Russian delegation stated. Late January, early March and April of 2003 will see meetings of the WTO working group, about 5 days each. There will also be a series of bilateral negotiations on goods and services, as well as consultations with group-members on agriculture, energy, sanitary and phytosanitary norms.

It is quite possible that if the current atmosphere at the negotiations and general intention for their intensification are preserved, by May the WTO working group can draft a report which will be close to the final version, a diplomatic source in Geneva revealed. It also stressed that the main criterion for the Russian side was the quality of its joining the WTO, which should be in line with Russia's national interests.

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