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Russia could complete talks on joining WTO with Canada, Switzerland, and, possibly the United States, in December
Russia could complete talks on joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) with Canada, Switzerland, and, possibly the United States, in December, a source in the government said Thursday. "We will be able to 99% complete talks with Canada and Switzerland at the Hong Kong round," the official said, referring to the sixth WTO ministerial conference December 13-18 in Hong Kong. He also said Russia hoped for an agreement with the United States. Earlier, Gary Litman, the vice president for Europe and Eurasia of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said Russia and the U.S. had made surprising progress in the past three or four weeks of intensive WTO negotiations. However, the bilateral Russia-U.S. agreement could be delayed over some disputable issues like aircraft import duties in Russia and access for American banks and insurance companies to the Russian financial services market. Currently, 60% of planes purchased by Russian air carriers are foreign. Russian companies pay an import duty totaling 20% of the planes' customs cost. Another government official said Russia planned to reduce the duties after its transitional period is over, noting that the import duties for foreign planes and their components were not critical for foreign producers such as Boeing and Airbus. The official also said that access to the Russian financial services market would create unequal competitive conditions for Russian and other foreign companies present in the country.
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