No WTO membership for Russia in 2006

Russia is the largest economy outside the 149-nation WTO. Its efforts to join have been bogged down in trying to reach a bilateral agreement with the United States.

Unresolved issues between the countries include Russian barriers on various types of farm products, Russian efforts to curb rampant piracy of American-copyrighted movies, recordings and computer programs, and high tariffs that Russia places on foreign planes to protect its own aircraft industry.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said this month that significant progress on many issues had been made and that hopes were high for an agreement within a few months.

However, Russian negotiator Maxim Medvedkov said "Russia's joining the WTO won't take place this year. Probably, joining the WO won't take place next year."

Hopes had been high that Russia and the U.S. would unveil a bilateral agreement at the Group of Eight summit, hosted by Russia in mid-July. But despite intense, last-minute talks, negotiations ultimately foundered on the question of Russian trade barriers blocking the sale of American beef and pork.

At the time, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said Russia had refused a U.S. demand for an immediate increase in imports of American beef and pork before Russia completes a review of America's food inspection system, according to the AP.

That review is due to be finished in October and Gref had suggested that a deal with the United States could finally be stuck then.

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