U.S., Russia Announce Long-Awaited WTO Deal

After 12 years Russia can now join WTO

The U.S. and Russian governments said Nov. 10 they had reached a pact to permit Moscow finally to join the World Trade Organization after 12 years of often stormy negotiations.

"We have an agreement in principle and are finalizing the details," US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement, calling the deal "an important step in Russia attaining membership in the WTO." She said she hoped to sign the agreement with Russian Economic Development Minister German Gref next week in Hanoi, on the margins of a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries.

The U.S. pressed hard for intellectual property protections and access to Russian financial services markets.

U.S. industry welcomed the deal. Frank Vargo, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said it would boost U.S. exports to Russia, which last year enjoyed an $11 billion trade surplus over the U.S. "The U.S. and Russia are the only two continental, ocean-to-ocean economies in the world and a lot of the technology and equipment US companies have designed for our huge economy will find a ready market in Russia as their economy moves forward," Vargo said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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