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U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman speaking in Washington on March 20 (epa) March 31, 2006 -- The senior U.S. trade negotiator says concerns over piracy and counterfeiting in China are one reason Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) has taken so long.

Trade Representative Rob Portman said Washington wants to make sure Russia has strong antipiracy controls before the United States approves a deal for Russia to join the WTO.

Portman said the need for such controls is one lesson that has been learned from the negotiations that led to China's membership in the WTO in 2001.

U.S. makers of film, music, and other intellectual properties are concerned about piracy of their products in both Russia and China.

The International Intellectual Property Alliance says illegal copying in Russia last year cost U.S. companies about $1.76 billion in lost sales. In China, losses were estimated at $2.4 billion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week accused the United States of blocking Russia's 13-year-old effort to join the WTO, the group that sets global trade rules.


WTO Status Of RFE/RL Broadcast Countries

An exhibition of the history of the WTO in Singapore in 1996 (courtesy photo)

WTO Members:
Armenia: Joined on 5 February 2003.
Croatia: Joined on 30 November 2000.
Georgia: Joined on 14 June 2000.
Kyrgyzstan: Joined on 20 December 1998.
Macedonia: Joined on 4 April 2003.
Moldova: Joined on 26 July 2001.
Romania: Joined on 1 January 1995.

Countries That Are Not Yet WTO Members:
Afghanistan: Submitted its application in November 2004.
Azerbaijan: Submitted its application in June 1997.
Bosnia-Herezgovina: Submitted its application in May 1999.
Belarus: Submitted its application in September 1993.
Iran: Submitted its application in July 1996.
Iraq: Submitted its application in September 2004.
Kazakhstan: Submitted its application in January 1996.
Russia: Submitted its application in June 1993.
Serbia and Montenegro: Submitted separate applications in December 2004.
Tajikistan: Submitted its application in May 2001.
Ukraine: Submitted its application in November 1993.
Uzbekistan: Submitted its application in December 1994.

For more information, click here.

For an exclusive RFE/RL interview with former WTO head MICHAEL MOORE,click here.