Russia Clears Last Hurdle for W.T.O. Membership

· Economics, Russia

Source / Courtesy: NY Times

PARIS — Russia on Thursday cleared the last major obstacle in its 18-year effort to join the World Trade Organization in what the head of the institution called a milestone for global trade.

“It’s a victory for Russia, a victory for W.T.O. members, and a victory for the W.T.O.,” the official, Pascal Lamy, director general of the organization, said by telephone after a panel at the group’s headquarters in Geneva cleared the final terms of Russia’s entry. Only the formality of approval next month at a meeting of W.T.O. national trade ministers remains.

Russia’s trade negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, said during a news conference that China’s economic performance since it joined in 2001 had helped to convince Moscow of the importance of getting a deal.

“China’s accession really boosted trade and investment, and it was one of the factors that was taken into account in our decision making when we decided to join and to complete these negotiations,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The agreement was made possible after Russia on Wednesday finally overcame a thorny dispute with Georgia tied to commerce with the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In that agreement, brokered by Switzerland, the neighbors agreed that a neutral company would monitor trade between them.

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