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Talks on Russia's Accession to WTO Could Be Complete by End of 2003 - 17 March, 2003

Talks on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) could 'technically' be complete by the end of 2003. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by Vladimir Yelaneshnikov, head of negotiations with the WTO for the Russian Economic Development Ministry, at a round-table discussion on Friday, March 14 entitled Prospects for Russia's Accession to the WTO.

'The current legal norms in the areas of foreign trade and economics meet the corresponding WTO demands,' he said. 'The necessary laws have either been passed or they are being considered by the State Duma. Technically Russia is ready to join the WTO.'

He added that the government's strategic decision to join the WTO had meant that new laws regarding state regulation of foreign trade and several other 'protective' laws had been passed more quickly. What is more, all the new laws regarding state regulation of foreign trade correspond to those that are in force in WTO countries. He added that there are at present four main issues under discussion with the EU. One of these issues concerns the energy sector (the EU is proposing equal domestic and foreign electricity and gas prices). Another issue concerns customs policy (the EU is proposing that government duty on imported aeroplanes, cars and medicines be abolished). There are also questions surrounding the access of foreign companies to the Russian market, especially in the areas of insurance, banking and telecommunications. Another important issue concerns domestic agricultural producers and their share of the market.

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