Russian delegation heading to U.S. for WTO accession talks

Other News Materials 27 September 2006 12:08 (UTC +04:00)

(RIA Novosti) - Russia and the United States will resume negotiations on Russia's accession to the world's largest trade body, Russia's top negotiator said Wednesday, reports Trend.

On September 27, a Russian delegation will fly to the U.S. for bilateral talks on Russia's accession to the WTO," said Maxim Medvedkov, who also heads a department for trade talks at the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

Negotiations with the U.S. broke down in July over differences on agriculture, specifically meat. The development was unexpected, since the main point of contention throughout the talks had been access of financial services companies to the Russian market and the lack of intellectual property rights protection in Russia.

Moscow wanted to sign a protocol with Washington at Russia's debut summit of the Group of Eight nations, but the deadline was moved back to October.

The U.S. currently enjoys concessions under bilateral agreements signed in 2005, which will remain in force until 2009. The agreements raise quotas on U.S. supplies of poultry meat to 1.2 billion metric tons, of beef to 450,000 tons and of pork to 502,000 tons.

Russia's economics ministry has warned that it will review the meat quotas for the U.S. if WTO talks in October fail.

Minister German Gref earlier said the country might fail to join the WTO in 2007, although he is optimistic talks with the U.S. will be completed this year, and that the country will accede to the WTO next year.

"I cannot declare precise timeframes. I hope it [Russia's accession to the WTO] happens by the end of 2007, but it may happen later," he said, adding that Russia faces "very difficult talks" with the U.S. this fall, as well as a round of multilateral talks.

Besides the U.S., Moldova, and Georgia could also block Russia's WTO bid.

Moldova is concerned about its exports to Russia of wine and crops, as well as the value-added tax it pays for Russian natural gas.

Georgia withdrew its signature from a protocol on Russia's WTO accession bid in July, until, it said, Russia changes its "discriminatory" customs regime on Georgian exports. Moscow said the move was more a matter of politics than economics.