Western and Central Africa
Eastern and Southern Africa
Eastern Europe and Central Asia
5 March, Russian Economy and Trade Minister German Gref told
reporters in Singapore "As of today we are fulfilling all the
commitments that we have taken on. I'm not sure whether we will be
able to complete the accession process this year. There is a chance
to make it on time but I can't radiate certainty.''
Gref's comment followed comments by EU Ambassador to Russia Marc
Franco during an interview published in the Russian daily
Kommersant: "We have heard a lot from our Russian partners that
joining the WTO is a priority,'' said Franco. "But the way the
negotiations are going and poor fulfilment of bilateral commitments
raises doubts over whether Russia will become a member by the end
Franco's remarks echo those of US Trade Representative Susan
Schwab the previous week, who said Russia had a "great deal to do
to get the multilateral part of its WTO accession agreement
concluded.'' EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson will reportedly
visit Moscow late March for talks with Russian trade
A series of multilateral and bilateral talks on Russia's WTO
accession wound up 2 March, with Maksim Medvedkov, head of trade
negotiations in Russia's Ministry of the Economy and Trade,
expressing optimism on the outcome: "The good news is that all
these meetings have clarified the tasks we must solve in the coming
month or month and a half in order to advance to the final stage of
Russia's accession to the WTO," said Medvedkov.
Accession discussions covered a number of issues including
agricultural subsidies, regulations governing Russia's sugar
industry, improved enforcement of copyright laws, and concerns on
Russia's plans to revise some laws adopted two or three years ago
to bring legislation in line with WTO laws.
Russia still has to sign bilateral protocols with Cambodia and
Guatemala. Talks with Cambodia could take place in April while the
signature with Guatemala is reportedly close to being signed.
Meanwhile, Georgia's renewal of its bilateral accession protocol
with Russia, withdrawn last year, turns on its request for closure
of "illegal" customs checkpoints on the Abkhazia and South Ossetia
segments of the Russia-Georgia border. .