World Trade Organization (WTO)
Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yakovenko Answers a Question from the Host of the RBK-TV Program "The World During the Past Week" Regarding the Prospects for Russia's Entry into the WTO
Unofficial translation from Russian
Question: What are the prospects for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization?
Answer: The negotiation process on the accession of Russia to the WTO is going on quite intensively, in a bilateral and a multilateral format. There have been completed and signed the appropriate protocols with 19 WTO members on the terms of access to our market of goods, and with 13 on services by now. Active work is under way on the working group's final report, which will set forth our commitments under a full range of WTO agreements.
At the same time, it is no secret that there are still on the table the most complicated issues, which it will not be easy to reach agreement on. That involves, for example, the level of custom duties on imports of products in such sensitive areas for us as the aerospace and car industries, the terms of access for foreign banks and insurance companies to the Russian financial market, and farm support measures. A number of questions will also have to be solved in the field of customs regulation, veterinary control, the protection of intellectual property, market regulation and pharmaceutical products.
Unfortunately, some countries are still putting forth demands that go beyond the standard framework of WTO agreements (the so called WTO-plus). Among other things, they concern such fundamentally important issues for us as energy price regulation, export duties, and activities of companies with state participation.
We intend to maintain the high dynamism of the negotiation process. It is our belief that this is in the interest of our trade partners as well. After all, the countries with whom the negotiations are already over account for more than 85 percent of our imports.
But it has to be emphasized that for us the WTO is not an end in itself and that there is no rush to accede to it as soon as possible We intend to join this organization when the agreed terms of our membership fully meet the interests of strengthening the Russian economy.
September 4, 2005