Russia remains barred from entering the WTO (epa)
WILL RUSSIA GET ITS WISH?
"It is of the utmost importance for us to complete talks this year in order to take part in a new political cycle with the status of a WTO member" -- Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref; April, 2007.
Russia has made clear its desire to enter the World Trade Organization ahead of parliamentary elections in December and presidential vote in March 2008.
But despite the removal of a major obstacle when the United States signed off on bilateral negotiations with Moscow in November 2006, Russia's accession to the world's largest trading bloc still faces difficulties:
Before Russia's bid can go to the WTO for a majority vote, bilateral negotiations must be completed with any current members who wish to do so. Russia hopes to wrap up outstanding negotiations -- with Cambodia, Vietnam, Georgia, and Guatemala -- by July.
Although Russia and Georgia initially completed bilateral negotiations in 2004, Georgia rescinded its approval over Moscow's failure to establish customs controls between Russia and the Georgian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab announced in April that Washington is not yet prepared rescind the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The Cold War-era legislation, adopted in response to Soviet restrictions on the emigration of Jews and other minorities, prevents normal trade relations with Russia.
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov in April was quoted by ITAR-TASS as saying: "If there are requirements that have not been not applied to other countries joining the WTO, we should not follow them."
Moscow may have to conduct bilateral with Kyiv in the event Ukraine joins the WTO before Russia does.
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