Eu-Russia Summit : Russia Reluctant to Make Concessions on WTO Accession

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Russia is determined to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO) but not at any price, says Russia's newly-appointed Economics Minister Elvira Nabiullina. "We have reached a stage in our WTO negotiations where only a few issues are left to be addressed," Nabiullina told a press conference following a round table of Russian and European Union businessmen on 25 October in Lisbon . "But some countries and companies trying to resolve their problems through financial negotiations should give up [these plans]," she explained. Nabiullina was speaking a day before an EU-Russia summit in Mafra, where President Vladimir Putin is expected to raise the issue of WTO membership.

Russia has been in talks with a number of EU member states on trade-related issues. Finland and Sweden are demanding that Moscow solve a problem with regard to increased export duties on timber. Poland expects Russia to lift its almost two year long ban on meat and plant products. Baltic states want Moscow to speed up border-crossing procedures to eliminate huge traffic congestion on the EU side. Russia says that none of these issues should affect its WTO accession process. However, Poland, Sweden and Finland disagree and are demanding that Moscow comes up with a solution to these problems before its accession to the WTO.

On the other hand, EU officials would be happy to see Russia in the WTO as soon as possible. Russia's accession would shift the responsibility for resolving certain trade disputes from the Union itself to the WTO. …