US welcomes Russia-Georgia agree to monitor trade

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The United States hailed Saturday a landmark agreement reached by Russia and Georgia to monitor trade between the two countries, paving the way for Russian membership of the WTO.

"The United States applauds the announcement that the governments of Russia and Georgia have come to agreement on an arrangement for monitoring trade between their two countries," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement, applauding Switzerland's assistance in brokering the deal.

The Swiss-mediated accord 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 World Trade Organization, after 18 years of talks, thus ending the country's status as the world's biggest economy outside the world's premier free trade club.

Georgia's Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze said Moscow would sign the agreement by November 10.

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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