As of September 30, the United States and Russia have resolved a number of trade and economic issues, in areas such as Russia's laws on intellectual property rights, government procurement, and transparency in the decision-making process on trade-related issues. This progress could move Russia a step closer to joining the World Trade Organization, or WTO.
"By reaching bilateral agreement on key issues related to the accession process," said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, "Russia can now devote additional energy to addressing remaining steps at the multilateral level."
The WTO aims to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business internationally. The WTO sets standards for customs and tariffs policies, and provides a framework for negotiating and formalizing trade agreements. It also deals with disputes among member countries by enforcing participants' adherence to the organization's agreements.
Today, Russia is the largest country that is not yet a member of the WTO. It has been seeking membership in the organization since 1993.
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to support Russia’s efforts as it takes the final steps necessary toward joining the WTO, in his telephone conversation with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to mark the conclusion of the negotiations.
And while U.S. backing does not ensure Russia’s entry into the organization, the significant progress in resolving our bilateral issues is an important element of Russia's efforts to demonstrate to all WTO Members, that Moscow intends to abide by WTO norms.
As Russia continues to advance in its efforts to join the WTO, the United States looks forward to further enhancing bilateral trade relations with Russia. And although much still needs to be done to bring Russian laws and trade practices in line with the WTO framework and agreements, the United States will continue to support Russia in its aspirations to World Trade Organization membership.