Russia's Long-Awaited WTO Membership Drawing Near

The date of Russia joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) is getting closer. President Dmitry Medvedev and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, agreed that all consultations on outstanding issues should be completed no later than September 30 of this year. Relevant decisions were adopted at the meeting of the two presidents in Washington.

Medvedev's visit to the United States ended with a meeting with Barack Obama. They discussed economic cooperation and, in particular, Russia's entry into the WTO. After the negotiations the two leaders talked at a joint press conference, RIA Novosti reports.

"Recently we have taken good steps towards building trust between our countries. We have taken steps designed to create more stable relationship. We have, to some extent, made our world a safer place. But so far we have not done the same to change our bilateral economic relations. And this visit is basically aimed at achieving these goals. We are ready for it and our U.S. partners are ready as well, “Medvedev said.

Mostly the negotiations were devoted to the economic issues and, above all, such complicated topics as the Russian Federation’s membership in the WTO.

"I am confident that cooperation in the area of high technology can be mutually beneficial, including the new projects created in the Russian Federation ... We hope that our American partners will take an active part in this project. Yesterday’s negotiations in Silicon Valley, as well as the economic forum held in St. Petersburg, along with the decision of major companies to come to Russia with such investments are an inspiration and show that we are able to negotiate not only with regard to missiles and the most complex issues on the international agenda," continued the president of Russia.

Russia has been trying to become a WTO member since 1993, and finally, some specific dates have been announced. President Dmitry Medvedev and his American counterpart, Barack Obama agreed that the preparations for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) must be completed before 30 September of this year, ITAR-TASS reports.

"Today we really agreed upon a common approach,” the Russian President said. “The point is that there are virtually no substantial issues. We have advanced on all fronts, starting with cryptography and intellectual property, and ending with the state structures and some other topics, such as synchronized changes in Russian legislation as we join the WTO. There are no problems here.”

"I am pleased that we set the timeframe so that we do not lose improvements that we made in the relations with President Barack Obama and not dilute WTO talks in endless discussions about the fate of chickens and pig trimming,” Medvedev said.

In turn, Obama said that Russia's joining the WTO is in the interests of both the U.S. and the entire world. He said that 99% of the issues have been resolved, with 1% of technical issues remaining, and they should be resolved by the fall of 2010.

Now, as stated by Maxim Medvedkov, director of the trade negotiations department of Economic Development and Trade, who is the chief negotiator of Russia on the WTO issues, we can expect that Russia may join the World Trade Organization in 2011, Vzglyad reports.

Medvedkov explained that after the completion of the negotiation process the procedure would take three to four months. The procedure for joining the WTO involves several stages. This process takes five to seven years on average, but Russia has been negotiating for over 15 years.

The negotiations have stalled due to the fact that the main Moscow’s negotiation partners, Brussels and Washington, created new requirements. The requirements were with regard to forest fees, charges for Siberian flights, and the level of state support for the Russian agricultural sector and standards for phytosanitary and veterinary control.

The WTO was created to liberalize international trade and regulation of trade and political relations and has over 150 partners as its members.

Yekaterina Yevstigneeva

Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov