Thirteen international companies have appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush to speed Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization, a representative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia said Oct. 31.
Kommersant, a Russian daily newspaper, said the U.S. signatories included Ford, which operates a factory near the northwestern city of St. Petersburg, and Boeing, which is vying to sell about two dozen new planes to leading Russian airline Aeroflot.
The other ten companies, which have investments in Russian, joined by British energy giant Shell wrote a joint letter on Oct. 19 to the two world leaders urging a quick end to contentious bilateral talks on Russia's joining the WTO, an AmCham spokesman Alexander Kravtsov said. The letter called for "the quickest possible signing of a commercially viable bilateral agreement."
Russia's decade-long attempt to join the WTO has been held up by disagreements with U.S. negotiators on intellectual property protections, access to Russian financial services markets and import terms for agricultural products. Russian negotiators have said the sole remaining disagreement is on veterinary controls at U.S. beef facilities. Russian inspectors are currently touring the facilities.
Russia is the only major world economy not yet a part of the 149-member world body.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006