Russia's chief negotiator rules out joining WTO in 2006
(RIA Novosti) - Russia will not join the World Trade Organization this year and it might not happen in 2007 either, head of the Russian delegation at the WTO talks said Monday.
"Russia will not join WTO this year and, probably, it might not happen next year either," said Maxim Medvedkov, who is also the head of the trade talks department at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
"We will have time to prepare for WTO accession and analyze the pluses and minuses that we will receive," Medvedkov said at a business conference in western Siberia, reports Trend.
He said Russia was close to the completion of the WTO talks, but 10-15 problems still remained on the agenda that had to be discussed more thoroughly.
Russia's Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said on July 15 that Russia and the United States should sign the protocol on the completion of bilateral negotiations by the end of October, and multilateral negotiations should be completed by the end of March, 2007.
The U.S. remains the only country out of the 58-member Working Party on Russia's accession with which Moscow has yet to sign a bilateral protocol. The issue of access to Russia's financial services market has been the main stumbling block in Russia's bilateral negotiations with the U.S. Other issues include intellectual property rights, import duties and agricultural subsidies.
The U.S. had been pushing for permission for its banks to open branches in Russia, but a compromise appeared to have been reached in the run-up to the G8 summit, when Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said branches of insurance companies - though not banks - would be allowed to do so.