Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus could resume WTO talks in September

Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus could reopen World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in September, the Kremlin's WTO point man said on Monday.

"Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus will likely resume negotiations on WTO membership by the fall of 2009," Maxim Medvedkov.

He said Russia and her partners in a yet-to-be-formed three-nation customs union were in the process of synchronizing their positions.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in early June to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said last Friday the most realistic option for Russia to join the World Trade Organization was to do so separately, but to agree on common positions with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Commenting on Russia's WTO prospects, the organization's head Pascal Lamy said in late June WTO members were still "unclear as to what the next steps would be."

Russia is the world's only major economy still outside the WTO. Consent from all 153 WTO members is necessary for a state to join the organization.

To date, Russia has completed mandatory bilateral negotiations with 60 countries, but has yet to synchronize positions on several issues, including agriculture, export duties for timber, and regulation of some state-controlled companies.



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