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Russia and WTO: the final countdown

Russia is looking to become a WTO member by the end of 2011, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev noting that Russia has already accepted several concessions.

­In his opening address to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum the President added that with the regulatory committee and other members in agreement, now was the time for Russia to join.

“We’ve been ready to join the WTO more than many other countries – both large and very small. But we have experienced a tough pressure from aside for unseemly compromises. Such an approach is unacceptable, and Russia will never agree on overtly unfavorable conditions. If our partners are not ready for Russia to join WTO on mutual terms, it would be a bad scenario. One way or another, but any political or economic interests should not interfere with our successful development”

If talks pass off smoothly, the largest economy outside the international trade club will join the organization by the end of the year. It is hoped that outstanding issues, including agriculture and motor industry regulations, will be resolved by the end of July. First Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov said Russia is concerned the current issues preventing successful integration into WTO are resolved as soon as possible.

"We are in a position to work out three major issues accepting the possible compromises and at the same time be firm in decisions. We are looking for a complex decision rather than taking three different to prevent any step backs”

Shuvalov added that the international trade membership should bring advantages for every Russian citizen.

"The WTO integration process should be backed by business community as well as by average Russian citizen. People should realize what are the pros and cons for each of them and for the country. There should be a solid understanding of how all the system works and what should we insist on and what should be compromised.”

One of the Russias’ main supporters, the U.S., sees the Russian WTO accession as a positive for US economy. Robert Hormats U.S Under Secretary of State believes Russia's membership will bring new opportunities to the country and the global economy.

 “In fact Russias’ accession to the WTO will actually bring new opportunities for US exporters and US workers. Russia is the worlds 10th largest economy but only the 37th largest export market. Its expanding middle class will likely soon make Russia the largest retail market in Europe. Russian accession to the WTO will provide America’s farmers and merchants with improved access to Russias 140 million consumers. A Russia which is more integrated into the Global economy which supports and adheres to its rules will strengthen the international economy, the Russian economy and the American economy.”