BRICS urges 'early' WTO accession for Russia
The leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa on Thursday threw their support behind Russia's 18-year-old bid to join the World Trade Organisation, urging an "early accession" for Moscow.
The backing for Moscow's bid to join the Geneva-based trade body came at the end of a summit of the so-called BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- in the southern Chinese city of Sanya.
Moscow has complained it has had to negotiate longer than any other country to join the WTO and that its accession process has been unnecessarily politicised by countries such as the United States.
"Brazil, India, China and South Africa extend full support to an early accession of Russia to the World Trade Organisation," the countries' leaders said in a joint summit declaration adopted in the Chinese resort town of Sanya.
Presidents Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also encouraged all countries to reject protectionist measures.
They pledged to intensify economic, trade and investment cooperation.
Russia, which opened its bid to join the WTO in 1993, is the last major world power not to be a member of the global trade body.
In 2009, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would seek accession as a customs bloc with Belarus and Kazakhstan, a decision that stunned the WTO and further complicated the talks.
The accession process was also held up by the United States in August 2008 after Russia's brief war with Georgia, but it was revived in talks last year following a thaw in US-Russian relations under the Obama administration.
The United States endorsed Russia's bid to join last October, and Russia said in December it had wrapped up a deal with the European Union that should enable it to become a member this year.
Last week, a frustrated Putin explicitly ordered officials to ignore the trade body's rules until the country is admitted.
© 2011 AFP