Russia's WTO bid in 'final stages': minister
Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation is reaching its "final stages", Russian trade and economic development minister Elvira Nabiullina said on Tuesday.
Seven weeks after Russia sealed a key deal on accession with the United States, Nabiullina signalled that attention was focused on a similar bilateral deal with the European Union while the conclusion to WTO negotiations was just months away.
"We are in the final stages of our negotiations on accession," Nabiullina told journalists in Geneva.
Several issues in multilateral talks with the WTO's 153 members were still outstanding including the level of Russian agricultural subsidies, she explained.
"But I think we can conclude them in the coming months," the Russian trade minister added.
"In recent months we have made significant progress, in particular on negotiations between Russia and the United States."
The United States endorsed Russia's bid to join the Geneva-based WTO in October, lifting a major obstacle for Moscow which has sought to enter the global trade body for 17 years.
Russia has to conclude separate bilateral deals with interested members as a precondition for accession, alongside the broader membership agreement.
The Russian minister said she would travel to Brussels on Wednesday to meet EU officials, with negotiations on a similar deal with the European Union still underway.
"We have to resolve several issues with the European Union as soon as possible," including export duties, Nabiullina added.
Nabiullina was in Geneva to mark the official launch of talks on a free trade agreement between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA - Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland).
© 2010 AFP