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Russia may join the WTO in 2006 if relevant talks are completed in 2005
Russia may join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2006 if relevant talks are completed in 2005, Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said on Monday. "This is a serious task," Gref told journalists after the talks with US Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez. "We would like the talks on Russia's accession to the WTO to be completed by December. However, much is to be decided and done before that," Gref said adding that the schedule of talks on this issue was very intense. "Tomorrow I will go to Korea to meet with representatives of those countries which have not reached final agreements with Russia yet," Gref said. Speaking about the exports of Russian energy carriers, the minister said that "the American market was very attractive to Russia" which should enter it as soon as possible. According to Gref, the increase of exports of Russian energy carriers requires substantial investments. "For instance, we will have to build a pipeline northwards or eastwards to the Pacific coast which can receive high-capacity tankers but this is very expensive," Gref said. Russia still lacks liquefied natural gas projects. "The Shtokman gas field developed together with Gazprom (in the central part of the Barents Sea) is one of the few projects," the minister added. He also mentioned the consolidation of the Gazprom state-owned stock. The state plans to close the deal by the end of June. "I am unaware of any details on the final mutual payment but all the documents should be signed," Gref said answering the question whether the state would be able to consolidate Gazprom stocks by the annual meeting of Gazprom stockholders due on June 24.
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