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Russia is to join the World Trade Organization
There is no alternative to that prospect-just as there is none to globalization. In fact, enlargement of the WTO and its mechanisms reflects globalization, said Yury Fedotov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, while addressing an audience at Moscow's International Trading Center. "Negotiations for Russia to join the WTO have entered their final stage-suffice it to mention Russia-WTO understandings signed," he pointed out. Fedotov said he expected that Russia might become a WTO member even within the year, though a number of issues are yet unsettled, on which the Parties are hard put meeting each other halfway. "We have an impression of someone using the situation to impose on Russia a 'WTO plus' arrangement. Certain countries are forcing on Russia such understandings that cross the limits of obligations to the WTO-but that will be hard to do. The time limits for Russia joining the organization are not to pressure the negotiators-it is the quality of understandings that matters," stressed the diplomat. Russia will never switch to innovation development unless it joins the WTO, said another speaker-Yevgeny Primakov, Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, and once federal Prime Minister. Russia is lagging behind the market, and will hardly catch up with it if it stays outside the World Trade Organization, he said. Many Russian economic branches are outdated. Then, there are sizeable gray imports of foodstuffs and other consumer goods. All that endangers certain branches-they will be unable to compete with imported commodities, price-wise, as soon as Russia joins the WTO, he warned. The situation makes many spokesmen of Russian authorities and business insist on preventive steps. Some call to establish a development budget in the economic branches they are lobbying, others to streamline tariff protection. Primakov expressed concern over Ukraine getting ready to urgently become WTO member. It has agreed to abolish duties for five thousand commodities. "If Ukraine enters the WTO before Russia, and stays at the same time in the common economic space-together with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, Russia will turn into a receptacle of vast duty-free imports. "There is also a chance of Ukraine obstructing Russian efforts to join the WTO," he added. That has to be taken into consideration in Russian negotiations with Ukraine and with the WTO alike, he said.
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