Lamy sees 'acceleration' in Russia bid to join WTO

19th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy said on Tuesday that Russia's 17-year membership bid was accelerating after significant progress in recent weeks.

Lamy acknowledged that the negotiations, which began before the WTO was formed in 1995, had been a "rollercoaster" ride for many years.

"This time there is acceleration," he told journalists.

Lamy highlighted two crucial signs of progress inside Russia and abroad.

Russia has to conclude separate bilateral deals with interested WTO members as a precondition for accession to the 153 member global trade body, and discussions with the United States as well as with the European Union were "nearly there," he said.

A Russian government spokeswoman said on October 1 that the talks with the United States "had been completed."

Lamy added that Russia's parliament had also "passed quite a lot of legislation which they have to pass as part of there accession package."

"There is a bit more hope than there was six months ago," the WTO director general said.

In June 2009, Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shocked the WTO by saying that Russia would apply to join in a single customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, a cumbersome approach that subsequently petered out.

Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov have repeatedly said in recent months that Russia was hoping to join the WTO by January 2011.

The country's accession process was held up by the United States in August 2008 after Russia's brief war with Georgia, but it was revived with the thaw in US-Russian relations under the Obama administration and talks this year.

© 2010 AFP

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