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Russia Joins World Trade Organization

Delegates gather for the opening session of the WTO ministerial conference in Geneva on December 15.
The World Trade Organization has accepted Russia as a WTO member after 18 years of negotiations.
Russia received the official invitation to join at a WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva.
Russia is the last major economy remaining outside the world trade body.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich, told a news briefing before the decision was announced, that WTO membership will benefit Russia's economy.

"Russia is joining the World Trade Organization on terms that meet [Russia's] national interests, setting conditions for improving our business climate, the inflow of foreign investment, and increasing Russian exports while supporting the key industries of our national economy," Lukashevich said.
Russia has been trying to join the WTO since 1993 but negotiations repeatedly faltered.
The way was finally cleared last month when Georgia -- the last country to block Russia's entry bid -- lifted its objections.
WTO accession has to be approved by all member states, and Georgia has been blocking Russia's entry since the two nations fought a brief war in 2008.
Russia's WTO membership will not come into effect until it has been ratified by the State Duma, which is expected to happen by mid-2012.
compiled from agency reports