Russia reaffirms decision to join WTO with Belarus, Kazakhstan

MOSCOW, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus will seek to join the World Trade Organization simultaneously and on equal terms as members of a customs union, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Saturday.

"It is our principle that we should join (the WTO) as a single customs union," Shuvalov told Mir TV one day after attending a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community's Integration Committee in the Kazakh city of Almaty.

Other options are possible, Shuvalov said, "but that is purely a head-of-state level of decision making."

Shuvalov said the three former Soviet republics have worked hard on the formation of the customs union, and a customs code would be presented for approval to the countries' presidents in November.

"In general, there is nothing in the way of the creation of a customs union," he said.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in June to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO. Unified customs regulations are due to take effect at the start of 2010.

Russia, which has been seeking WTO membership for more than 15 years, is the largest economy still outside the global trade organization.



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