Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan May Join WTO Separately

By Lyubov Pronina and Alex Nicholson July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country, Belarus and Kazakhstan may join the World Trade Organization at different times rather than making a simultaneous bid as part of a customs union. "There are two paths," he said at a press conference today after the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy. "The first is to join as part of a customs union, which would be elegant, but problematic. We can join in a different way. Having agreed certain general standards and positions within the customs union 'troika,' we can join separately, which, in my mind, is simpler and more realistic." Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced in June that Russia would seek to join the global trade arbiter as part of a customs union with its two ex-Soviet neighbors. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke this week called the change to Russia's 16-year solo endeavor "not workable and unacceptable." A trade official in Geneva said two days ago that Russia hasn't informed the WTO it was pulling out its solo membership bid, nor has it notified the trade arbiter that it's seeking membership as part of a customs union.



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