Medvedev slams US for blocking Russia's WTO bid
President Dmitry Medvedev, due to visit the United States shortly, on Tuesday slammed Washington for holding back Russia's long-running bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), AFP reported.
"If it weren't for the highly cautious US policy on Russia's WTO accession, and bluntly speaking, if it weren't for the blocking by the United States, we would have been there long ago," Medvedev said.
Russia began negotiations for WTO membership in 1993 but the talks have hit numerous roadblocks over the years and today Russia remains the world's largest economy still outside the WTO.
Last year, Washington said Russia's bid to join the global trading body had been put in doubt by its war with Western-allied Georgia, a stance that Moscow criticised as an inappropriate politicisation of the process.
Russian officials have repeatedly expressed frustration with what they call political obstacles to Russia's accession to the global trade body.
In June, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would seek accession as a customs bloc with Belarus and Kazakhstan, a decision that took the WTO by surprise and that Washington called "unworkable."
The move dented what US officials had described as healthy progress towards a US-Russian deal allowing Russia's WTO entry and sparked speculation that Putin had sidelined Medvedev amid disagreement between the two.
But on Sunday Medvedev denied the reports of discord with Putin.
"This is a mistake. The decision about how we will accede has been made. We will do it together," he said, speaking to the Valdai Discussion Club, an annual Kremlin-organised meeting of foreign Russia experts.
"Since they are not taking us into the WTO and holding us in the corridor, at the entrance, then we should work towards the integration of our economies: Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus," he said.
Medvedev is due to visit the United States later this month to attend a summit of the Group of 20 top developed and developing countries in Pittsburgh and to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Russia's entry into the WTO has been held up by various issues including disagreements over Russian restrictions on the import of agricultural products and its protection of intellectual property.
Meanwhile Russia has repeatedly urged the United States to cancel the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, a Cold War-era measure that imposes trade restrictions on Russia which Moscow says are outdated.