WTO deal for Russia closer to conclusion

Georgia says it has accepted a Swiss proposal that could open the way for Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

This content was published on October 28, 2011 and agencies

Russia needs to reach individual agreements with all 153 members of the WTO, and the lack of progress in negotiations with Georgia had been the last significant stumbling block.

Georgia lost a brief war with Russia in 2008 over the control of two breakaway regions, leading to a breakdown in diplomatic relations with Moscow.

Georgia said on Thursday it accepted a Swiss proposal providing guarantees of international monitoring of all trade and cargo between Russia and the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. After the 2008 conflict, Moscow formally recognised the two Georgian provinces as sovereign nations.

Under the Swiss plan, private firms would place observers on both sides of the border, but not in the two disputed provinces. These contractors would be hired by neutral third parties such as Switzerland or the European Union.

Russia's top negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, said it would take a few days to analyse the Swiss offer.

The WTO said it planned to hold a final meeting on Russia's membership in November. Governments would then have to formally approve Moscow's accession during a ministerial conference in December.

Russia is by far the largest economy still outside the international trade body despite 18 years of talks. Both the European Union and the United States have voiced hope that Moscow could join the WTO by the year's end.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

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