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Russia Could Join WTO In 2005

By Agence France-Presse Russia has made headway in its bid to become a member of the World Trade Organization and could join the Geneva-based body next year, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Jukov said Sept. 13. "I think that we have a good chance of becoming a full member [of the WTO] in 2005," notably as Russia had "gone rather far" in the admission process, he said. He also noted that a bilateral agreement had already been reached with the European Union and that discussions leading to similar accords were under way with many other WTO member countries. Russia needs to complete accession deals with about 20 countries, such as China, Japan, South Korea and the United States. An agreement with China is expected to be signed by the end of September, before the visit to Moscow of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, according to Chinese Trade Minister Bo Xilai. The principal obstacle so far to Russia's admission to the WTO has been its handling of intellectual property protection and customs formalities. The United States is pressing Russia to act more vigorously against music and computer piracy. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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