(RIA Novosti) - Russia could conclude bilateral talks with the U.S. on accession to the World Trade Organization before the summit of the G8 group of industrialized nations in St. Petersburg, a senior government official said Sunday.
"We hope this issue could be solved before the [G8] meeting," Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov told a Russian-Swiss forum of regional cooperation, reports Trend.
Russia has now signed bilateral protocols with 57 members out of the 58-member Working Party on its accession to the World Trade Organization. Talks with the United States have been fraught over a number of issues, including access to Russia's banking sector, intellectual property rights, import duties, and agricultural subsidies.
Russia has consistently said its financial sector is still too weak to withstand direct competition on its own market from branches of foreign banks and other financial institutions. The U.S. has been pushing for its banks to be allowed to open branches in the country
Zhukov confirmed once again Russia would not yield to U.S. demands to allow foreign banks and insurance companies to open branches in the country.
Zhukov also said the ruble would fluctuate within the range of 26-27 rubles to the dollar in the next two or three years and expressed the hope that inflation would not exceed 8.5-9% in 2006.
The government initially planned to contain inflation at 8.5% in 2006, but later corrected the figure to 9%. Inflation was 10.9% in 2005
"The situation gives the grounds to hope that inflation will be kept within the range of 8.5-9% in 2006," Zhukov said.
Zhukov also said inflation was expected to hit 6.5-8% in 2007 and 4.5-6% in 2008.