Russia could clinch WTO deal by mid-Dec: Kremlin aide

31st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia could agree a deal on joining the World Trade Organisation by December 15, a Kremlin aide said Monday, amid growing signs its 18-year campaign to join the trade body is coming to a conclusion.

One of the biggest obstacles to Russian membership appeared to have been at least partly removed last week when its foe and WTO member Georgia agreed to a "final proposal" from Swiss mediators to assist Russia to join.

"If we manage to complete all the necessary processes, a working group is going to meet on November 11," Arkady Dvorkovich, the economic adviser of President Dmitry Medvedev, told reporters.

"If the decision of the working group is positive, then the process of Russia's accession to the WTO may be completed by December 15 in a ministerial meeting," he added, without specifying on the nature of the meetings.

Dvorkovich made clear the deal would still require ratification before Russia formally became a member.

Medvedev said Sunday he hoped to see Moscow join the World Trade Organisation by the end of the year after meeting Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey for previously unannounced talks at his residence.

In an apparent sign of growing momentum to solve the issue for good, Calmy-Rey is due to meet Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili in the resort city of Batumi later Monday.

Ex-Soviet Georgia says it is in favour of Russian membership of the WTO but its conditions for agreeing to allow its powerful neighbour to join have threatened to derail Russia's efforts to finally become a member.

© 2011 AFP

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