Medvedev, Obama call for speedy coordination of positions on WTO.

11/7 Tass 463

MOSCOW, July 11 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama discussed bilateral coordination for the resolution of regional and international problems.

In a telephone conversation on Monday, July 11, the presidents paid “special attention to the need for a speedy coordination of position on Russia’s accession to the WTO”, the presidential press service said.

They agreed to instructed their negotiating teams and present progress reports to them shortly.

The United States actively supports Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and hopes that this process can be completed before the end of the current year, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats said earlier.

The light at the end of the tunnel is now brighter than ever, he said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on June 20, referring to prospects for Russia’s admission to the WTO.

But when asked if this work could be finished by July, Hormats gave no clear answer and repeated that the U.S. would use the end of the years as a feasible deadline and there was nothing that could prevent the sides from completing the process by that time.

However Russian officials said the other day that if the remaining questions were not solved by August, the process may drag on for years.

Hormats said that Washington was requiring no more and no less of Moscow than of other countries that seek WTO membership and stressed that there was no and could be no discrimination.

At the same time, he admitted that accession to the WTO would not bring immediate benefits to Russia because WTO rules do not apply to its main export products — hydrocarbons and weapons – but said it would facilitate Russia’s modernisation and economic diversification in the long term.

Hormats also expressed confidence that the volume of Russian-American trade would double after Russia’s admission to the WTO.

The U.S. administration continues to support to steadfastly support Russia’s admission to the WTO, U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said earlier.

She assured Itar-Tass before leaving for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that this was the main priority in economic relations with Russia.

Sapiro recalled that during the latest summit in Deauville President Obama told President Medvedev that Russia’s accession to the WTO would be useful for the Russian and American economies and for the world economy as well.

White House’s senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs, Michael McFaul, also recalled earlier Obama’s promise to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to make sure that bilateral relations with America were more important for Moscow than relations with Iran.

McFaul said the U.S. intended to maintain the current pace of development in U.S.-Russian relations.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said earlier that support for Russia’s admission to the WTO was one of the priority tasks facing the American administration.

Kirk said the U.S. would be able to make use of the advantages to be presented by Russia’s accession to the WTO only after full normalisation of bilateral trade relations.

This will require the abolition of the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment that was designed to link trade to the freedom of emigration from the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Russia may become a member of the World Trade Organisation before the end of the year, its Director-General Pascal Lamy said.

For the first time in about ten years that he has been dealing with Russia’s admission to the WTO, Lamy seems to be truly hopeful that the country’s admission to the organisation is real as never before, he said.

“We should cover the remaining distance quickly, without creating big problems for communication with our leading partners in the EU. I hope that the government will find such compromise,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier.

Medvedev has instructed the government to speed up Russia’s accession to the WTO and recalled that he discussed this issue in particular with the head of that organisation and the U.S. president.

“We believe it necessary to intensify our efforts to join the WTO,” he said.

Medvedev said Russia would use the shortest way possible to join the WTO. He said the form of accession was less important.

Usually, admission to the WTO takes about 10 years. Russia applied for admission in December 1994 and has repeatedly complained about the delay since then.

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