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  Thursday, November 21, 2019
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Six issues remain open in Russia's talks on accession to the World Trade Organization with the United States
Six issues remain open in Russia's talks on accession to the World Trade Organization with the United States, the Russian economics minister said Tuesday. German Gref said these were access to the financial services market, subsidies and tariffs in agriculture, phyto-sanitary measures, intellectual property rights and "certain points on supplies of aircraft and components for aircraft". "The negotiations are difficult because these are issues of principle for our partners," the minister said. However, he said he felt no opposition on the part of the U.S. to Russia's joining the WTO, and said U.S. President George Bush had repeatedly promised comprehensive assistance. Russia has signed bilateral protocols with 56 members out of the 58-member Working Party on its accession to the WTO. It is also yet to complete talks with Australia. Gref said it was in Russia's interests to joint the world's largest trade organization as soon as possible. "After six years of talks, I can say for sure that the speed with which Russia attains competitive positions will depend on how soon it joins the organization," Gref said, adding that some had made a "bogeyman" out of the WTO. "They even sometimes say that pensions will no longer be paid if Russia joins the WTO," he said. Such forecasts are highly likely to come true if Russia does not join the organization, he said. Gref said discriminatory measures against Russian goods were on the increase, with 117 measures worth $2 bln effective this year, against five worth just $100 mln in 2000. He added that Russia would preserve previous mechanisms and develop new tools to protect its domestic market after it joined the WTO, and said agriculture - a sensitive sector politically and economically - would only benefit from WTO membership. "I wonder how European farmers spoiled by government support will manage to compete with ours, who have never seen so much money, after subsidizing ends in 2012," Gref said.
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