Russia to sign WTO deal by Nov 10: Georgia

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Moscow will sign a Swiss-brokered deal with Georgia removing the last hurdle before Russian membership of the World Trade Organization by November 10, the Georgian foreign minister said.

"We have covered all matters of substance and we are now tackling the technicalities, which will have to be dealt with by November 9," on the eve of the WTO's working group on Russia, Sergi Kapanadze said Friday.

"We have a deal with Russia. We are happy that they were eventually able to accept Switzerland's final proposal," he told AFP, adding that Georgia would ink the agreement Saturday in Geneva.

The Swiss-mediated deal will see international monitoring of cross-border trade through Georgia's Kremlin-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, despite Moscow's initial rejection of external oversight.

The agreement clears the way for Russia's entry into the WTO, after 18 years of talks, ending the country's status as the world's biggest economy outside the world's premier free trade club.

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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