Russia will live on even if the World Trade Organization (WTO) rejects its membership bid, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.
“If we are told that we are not fit for it for some reason, we can live without it. This is absolutely true and I am absolutely sincere,” Medvedev said.
“Everybody, and our partners in the WTO accession process should understand that our joining is not only in Russia’s interests. It is in the interests of various businesses, foreign businesses … for reasonable regulation of international trade flows. It is a two-way street,” Medvedev said.
The 150-member WTO is an international organization set up to liberalize global trade and regulate trade and political relations between its members. Russia, the only major economy not included in the organization, has been seeking membership in the WTO for about 18 years.
Russia signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday with most of the countries of the CIS, the successor group of former Soviet states. Earlier this year, Russia set up a customs zone with Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Russia had hoped to conclude WTO accession talks by the end of this year, but obstacles remain over Russian insistence on support for the agricultural sector and car production.