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The General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva
The General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva will consider on Tuesday Ukraine's membership.

After 14 years of accession negotiations, the Working Party on the Accession of Ukraine successfully adopted Ukraine's 'accession package' in late January, which prompted Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to state a few days later that her country would become a "fully-fledged WTO member" on February 7.

Meanwhile, Ukraine first needs to ratify a protocol on its accession to the WTO by July 4, 2008, which will make it the 152nd member of the organization, within a month.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko cited earlier expert opinions that accession would secure the country 1.5%-1.7% GDP growth annually.

However, many politicians fear WTO membership could have negative consequences for national industries. Viktor Yanukovych, opposition leader and a former prime minister, said domestic agriculture, as well as the car making, shipbuilding and defense sectors could be hardest hit.

Kiev also plans to launch negotiations on February 18 with the EU on establishing a free trade zone.

A source in the Russian delegation of negotiators said if Moscow failed to join the WTO before Kiev, Russia's accession could be put off indefinitely. Russia still expects to join the WTO by mid-summer, a deadline mentioned late last year.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told the recent World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos that Ukraine was seeking to enter the WTO on unfavorable terms simply to leave Russia behind and gain a certain advantage.


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