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  •     WTO: Accessions

    Geneva talks on Russia's accession pass "positively and constructively"

    Russian officials reported that a 22 October meeting in Geneva on Russia's WTO accession bid passed "positively and constructively". According to Russia's chief negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, speaking to agency Itar-Tass in advance, talks would focus on five chapters of the Working Party report. Subjects reportedly included customs issues, the functioning of free economic zones, investment and public procurement.

    The following day, Russian officials were due to meet with their Saudi Arabian counterparts for a further round of bilateral talks. Saudi Arabia requested consultations over Russia's WTO bid in May. Prior to that, on 19 October, Russia had also held bilateral talks with Georgia focusing on the operation of customs checkpoints on the border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, currently, in Georgia's view, operating illegally. "The discussions proceeded constructively and oriented for good results," Medvedkov said. The next round of talks with Georgia will be held "in three to four weeks".

    Elsewhere, Russian daily Nezavisimaya reported 22 October that Russia will not lift its embargo on Polish meat as long as Poland refuses to allow Russian inspectors to visit Polish agricultural plants. Polish Deputy Minister of Agriculture Jan Ardanovski, on a 15 October visit to Moscow, raised the issue of Russia's WTO accession bid and commentators have interpreted remarks he made there as a hint that Poland might block the process.

    Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Minister and Vice Premier Alexei Kudrin was expected to hold talks with US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab during his visit to Washington D.C. to attend the 22 October annual meeting of the executive IMF and World Bank. Following a Russian government reshuffle on 18 October, Kudrin took over as head of the commission for Russia's WTO accession. According to a Moscow Times report dated 17 October, previous head German Gref, former Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, has been nominated as bank President by the Supervisory Council of Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, with a shareholder vote on the issue slated for 28 November.