Magazine article Europe-East

World Trade Organisation : Working Party Seals Moscow's WTO Accession

Magazine article Europe-East

World Trade Organisation : Working Party Seals Moscow's WTO Accession

Article excerpt

The final terms of the agreement that would allow Russia to join the World Trade Organisation were approved by negotiators, on 10 November, putting an end to 18 years of talks. WTO Working Party on Russia's accession, chaired by Stefan Johannesson since 2003, has agreed on a package of reforms and commitments that Russia will have to follow once membership is fully granted.

This new step forward comes on the heels of the endorsement by Georgia and Russia, on 9 November, of a proposal allowing the international monitoring of trade through Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "I am convinced that Russia's accession to the WTO will bring substantial benefits both to Russia and to the members of the organisation," Johannesson said, describing the agreement as a "historic achievement for the WTO".

The EU welcomed the news, acknowledging Russia's efforts in finding solutions to major issues that were slowing down the accession process. "This is an important step for Russia's economic development and for the multilateral trading system," Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said. "I am also very pleased at this achievement today because Europe has played a critical role to ensure this long-standing goal has finally been reached," he added.

In order to obtain the approval of negotiators, Moscow signed 30 bilateral agreements on market access for services and 57 on market access for goods. "In acceding to the WTO, Russia embraces a series of rules and commitments that are the foundation of an open, transparent and non-discriminatory global trading system," said Pascal Lamy, the WTO's director-general. …

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