RF, WTO should end consultations on meat in August – official.

28/7 Tass 181

GENEVA, July 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russia and the WTO should end consultations on meat in August, Russian chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov told Itar-Tass.

Commenting on the Working Group on Russia’s WTO Bid informal consultations, Medvedev said, “The position of key suppliers and our stance are considerably bringing closer. But final agreement has not been reached yet because the talks involve over 20 countries. I believe that we will reach agreement today or tomorrow. In August this issue should be closed.”

He explained that Russia insisted on reducing quotas on pork and poultry imports.

Russia and the WTO approved registration requirements to export-import operations, tariff quotas and technical trade barriers. In the middle of September a series of meetings will be held to coordinate two remaining sections of a report by the Working Group – veterinary and phytosanitary measures, as well as investment measures related to trade. Both parties have not yet settled disagreements on rights to car assembly. Commenting on prospects for resolving this problem, Medvedkov said, “Russia has close positions with certain countries. And our stance does not coincide with the other. Work continues.”

The Working Group’s report should be amended due to the changes of the regulatory base in light of the creation of the Customs Union. The report will provide the basis for a final document on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

Speaking about Russia’s list on obligations for services, Medvedkov noted that the list “was finally ready on Wednesday”. As for a list on goods, he said it would be verified by the middle of October.

Medvedkov said the Working Group has also approved a technical schedule for resuming talks. The final session will take place on November 10-11, he said.

The schedule has been worked out in such way in order to complete all talks by the WTO ministerial meeting slated for December 15-17. “It is a technical schedule. We’ll work in compliance with it,” the chief negotiator said.

He added, “If the technical schedule is observed, of course, we will have an opportunity to take a decision on Russia’s accession to the WTO at the ministerial conference in Geneva in December.”

In addition, Medvedkov told Itar-Tass that the Russian-Georgian WTO talks had yielded no result.

At the same time, Medvedkov said discussions continued.

“It is obvious that we are entering a final stage. We’ ll see their results. I hope the way that we want. Till now the talks have yielded no result, but we continue contacts,” the Russian negotiator said.

He recalled that under Switzerland’s auspices Russia and Georgia had held three rounds of talks.

Commenting on Wednesday’s consultations of the Working Group on Russia’s WTO Bid, Medvedkov stressed, “Georgia attended the informal consultations and took part in the discussions.”

Georgia insists “Russia fulfil its obligations, which envision trade with Georgia through legal crossing points and the legalisation of [Georgian] customs points on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian border”.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been sour since a five-day war between the two former Soviet countries in August 2008, which began when Georgian forces attacked the breakaway republic of South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent states two weeks after the conflict. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.

The WTO has 153 members at present. Negotiations on the admission of a new member are held within the working group, which unites countries that have unsettled trade problems with the candidate.

As a rule, negotiations focus on four areas: accessibility to the goods market, agriculture, accessibility to the market of services, and systemic matters. The candidate must bring its national laws in correspondence with the WTO rules. Two-thirds of votes of WTO members are sufficient for the admission of a new member. Regularly, the accession process takes a decade.

Russia applied for membership in the WTO in December 1994. The number of its negotiating partners kept growing through the years, and the latest working group had 58 members – the largest working group ever in the entire history of the WTO. Six-year negotiations with the United States were the most difficult for Russia (the bilateral protocol was signed on November 19, 2006). The negotiations with the European Union also lasted for six years (the protocol was signed on May 21, 2004). Full consent was reached with the United States and the EU in the second half of 2010, and Russian officials said that Moscow was able to become a WTO member by the end of 2011.

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