WTO Negotiators Agree On Final Terms For Russia Entry

Negotiators have agreed on final terms that would allow Russia to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) body after 18 years, on the heels of a Swiss-brokered deal to lift Georgian objections to Russian membership.

The WTO said a working panel has agreed on the terms that would allow Russia to be approved as a member at the WTO’s ministerial meeting on December 15-17.

“It has been a long journey, but today, Russia has taken a big step towards its destination of membership in the WTO,” Director-General Pascal Lamy said.

Stefan Johannesson, chairman of the WTO working group on Russian accession, claimed the development was also good for the international economic situation.

“The accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization is a win-win result,” he said.  “It’s a win-win situation and, as someone said, one of the delegates this morning, this is good news for the gloomy global economy.”

Russia applied to join in 1993 but negotiations dragged on and were further delayed after Georgia blocked Russia’s membership bid over Russian bans on wine and mineral water and following its brief war with Russia over South Ossetia in 2008.

A breakthrough was achieved only last week, when the two sides agreed to a proposal that would allow international monitoring of trade through Georgia’s pro-Moscow breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That deal was signed on November 9.

Officials in those regions — which have enjoyed Russian backing for independence since the war — have expressed concern over the terms of the deal.

compiled from agency reports

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