Russia-Georgia to sign WTO deal on Wednesday

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Moscow and Tbilissi are set to sign a deal Wednesday that would pave the way for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization, a source close to negotiations said.

A formal negotiating session on Russia's accession will then open a day later, when the 62 countries participating actively in discussions over Moscow's membership are expected to rubberstamp the overall agreement.

After the first green light from Thursday's meeting, a second approval would be required from the entire membership to confirm the accession.

This approval is likely to be made during a conference of ministers in mid-December.

Russia submitted its application to join the WTO in 1993, but talks dragged on and its membership bid was further delayed after its brief war with Georgia in 2008.

The decisive breakthrough with the last holdout nation came in November after months of closed-door meetings in Switzerland.

The World Bank estimates that WTO accession may add up to 11 percent to Russia's gross domestic product in the long term as business becomes more streamlined and the investment climate improves.

© 2011 AFP

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