Russia's Entry into WTO Depends upon Russia Itself Say Finns

Russia's dream of entering the WTO (World Trade Organisation) could already become reality in September 2003 at the fifth WTO ministerial conference in Cancun (Mexico). This announcement was made on Wednesday, December 18, by Finnish Foreign Minister Yari Vilen, telling the mass media about the situation that has developed since the EU summit in Copenhagen.

He said that Finland supports Russia's entry into the EU despite dissatisfaction with Russia's proposals for the timber, paper and food industries and the telecom, banking and insurance sectors. Mr Vilen believes that Russia's entry into the WTO depends entirely on Russia itself and whether the Russian government is ready to introduce a large number of bills in connection with the WTO for the State Duma to discuss in the Spring session. He said that if these bills are not passed before autumn then entry into the WTO will also have to be put off to a later date.

Mr Vilen also commented on the Russian-Finnish agreement to maintain mutual investment priveleges. Talks on this agreement are continuing but Russia has said that its agreement depends on Russia's entry into the WTO. Mr Vilen said he hoped that Russia would reconsider this position if its entry into the WTO is put off to a later date.

'After China's entry into the WTO Russia is the only significant economic zone that is not a part of this world organization,' said the minister. However, he believes that there are still a lot of administrative reforms to be made before Russia will be able to join the WTO.

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