Bloomberg News

Putin Blames U.S., EU for ‘Political’ Delay to Russia’s WTO Bid

October 11, 2011

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed the U.S. and European Union for “political” delays to Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.

“This is a purely political issue now,” Putin said in an interview with Chinese state media in Beijing today. “From our side, we’ve done everything.”

Putin, who is making his first foreign trip since announcing plans to return to the presidency next year, said last week the U.S. and EU shouldn’t “hide behind” Georgia in postponing Russia’s entry into the WTO. Russia, the largest economy outside the trade arbiter, has been trying to join it since 1993, surpassing the 15 years China had to wait before becoming a member.

Georgia and Russia, who fought a five-day war in 2008, made no progress at their latest Swiss-mediated talks in Geneva, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze said Oct. 8. The Black Sea nation has withheld approval of Russia’s bid, saying disputes remain over customs checkpoints in the two breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Negotiations could be concluded by year-end, said Putin, who added that the “main problems are resolved” and entry into the WTO will have a “positive impact” on the Russian economy by increasing investor confidence.

Russia is in the “final stretch” of its talks to join the WTO and may complete the accession process in December, Interfax reported Oct. 4, citing Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Slepnyov.

The country has “in general” reached an agreement on lowering meat import quotas with “key players” and has resolved disagreements on industrial-assembly rules with the U.S., Slepnyov was cited as saying by the news service, adding that a “number of technical” questions remain to be negotiated with European countries.

--With assistance from Jennifer M. Freedman in Geneva. Editors: Paul Abelsky, Eddie Buckle

To contact the reporters on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net; Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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