Source Pravda.Ru

Russia's WTO talks with China may end in September

An agreement on the completion of bilateral talks between Russia and China in the framework of Russia's joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) may be reached during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Moscow in September.

"We will try to reach an agreement by the premier's visit," Bo Xilai, Chinese minister of commerce, said on Wednesday at a press conference on the results of the seventh session of the sub-commission of the Russian-Chinese commission on preparations for prime ministers' visits.

Mr. Bo said Russia and China were currently holding "active, fruitful negotiations" on Russia's joining the WTO.

He said that this year, a visit to China by President Vladimir Putin was planned.

Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref said that at today's session, issues connected with the negotiating process on the WTO were discussed. "We outlined approaches to resolving key issues about the WTO and agreed on how we will reach final agreements," Mr. Gref said.

"We agreed that we will do it within normal terms," Mr. Gref said.

Mr. Gref also said that during the two-day talks with the Chinese delegation, a wide range of issues was discussed. The issues ranged from deliveries of steel, chemical, petrochemical, agricultural, and timber to the synchronization of the two countries' customs agencies' activities.

He said major investment projects were also discussed. Mr. Bo said China was studying the possibility of building a large pulp mill in Russia's Far East and that it intended to invest about 300 million yuan in the project. In his words, it is planned to build modern Chinese business centers, which will include hotels, offices and shops in Moscow and St. Petersburg. China also considered projects to produce energy equipment and machines.

"We are unsatisfied with the present level of mutual investment," Mr. Bo said. Noting that investments stimulate trade, the Chinese ministerexpressed the hope that trade turnover between the two countries annually increase by no less than 20%.

Earlier Mr. Gref said that in the first six months of 2004, trade turnover between Russia and China exceeded $9 billion and that it was expected to reach $20 billion by the end of the year. It was $15.76 billion last year.

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