Russia could join WTO by December

Russia could be a member of the World Trade Organization by mid-December, declared presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich.

“If everything goes as planned, the working group will meet on November 11,” Dvorkovich said. “If the group approves the bid, Russia will join the WTO on December 15, at the ministerial conference. The next step then, of course, is to get all documents ratified.”

Negations got a major boost last week after the EU put pressure on Georgia – the only member of the WTO opposing the bid.

The EU threatened that if Georgia does not change its position on Russia’s bid, the EU will make an exception to WTO rules, which require the full consent of all 153 member states in order to welcome a new member.

As required, Russia has already held successful negations with all WTO countries – aside from Georgia.

Both the US and EU removed the last roadblocks to Russia’s membership after Moscow agreed to change its rules on car assembly, the export of farm products and quotas for wood imports.

Tbilisi, however, pointed out that Russia “refuses to comply with the minimum of conditions required to obtain the WTO membership.” Among the “minimum requirements” are the changes to Russia’s positions on trade in the long-disputed “occupied territories,” Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia is currently the only large economy to remain outside of the WTO. The country first applied for membership in the WTO in December 1994. The number of its negotiating partners has kept growing through the years, and the latest working group had 58 members, making it the largest working group in the entire history of the WTO.

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