4 Nov 2011

Russia on verge of joining WTO

5:16 am on 4 November 2011

One of the world's most protracted trade negotiations appears to be near a resolution.

After 18 years of talks, Russia is close to joining the World Trade Organization.

The ABC reports that the final obstacle, objections from Georgia, have been settled.

Russia fought a short war with Georgia in 2008. Georgia, a former Soviet republic, does not have diplomatic relations with Russia.

Russia's top negotiator said late on Wednesday that Moscow had accepted the terms of a compromise deal proposed by Tbilisi on monitoring mutual trade

A Georgian negotiator said on Thursday he expected the agreement to be signed within a week.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told Interfax news agency:

"Everything should reach its conclusion ... by 10 November."

This is the date for a meeting of a WTO working group which can then draw up a final document for approval by WTO trade ministers in Geneva on 15 December.

Entry also needs the approval of the Russian parliament.

The World Bank says WTO entry could increase the size of the Russian economy by 3.3% in the medium term and 11% in the long term.