The United States expects Russia to receive an official invitation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in mid-December, President Barack Obama said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday the WTO Working Party on Russia’s accession approved the package spelling out Russia’s terms of entry to the organization. The last remaining obstacle for Russia’s entry was removed on Wednesday when Russia and Georgia signed a deal clearing the way for Moscow’s WTO admission.
“The outcome of today’s Working Party meeting is the last step before WTO ministers approve these terms and invite Russia to become a WTO member, which we expect to take place at the WTO ministerial conference on December 15-17, 2011,” Obama said.
“I congratulate President [Dmitry] Medvedev and his government for completing negotiations on the terms and conditions for Russia’s accession to the WTO, which were adopted today,” the U.S. leader said.
“After nearly two decades of negotiations, Russia will now be able to join to the WTO,” he said.
The Working Party will now send its accession recommendation to the December 15-17 Ministerial Conference, where ministers are expected to approve the documents and accept Russia as a WTO Member.
Russia will have until June 15, 2012 to ratify its accession package. Russia will become a full-fledged member of the WTO thirty days after the accession documents are ratified by the Russian parliament.
“Russia’s WTO accession would be yet another important step forward in our reset of relations with Russia, which has been based upon the belief that the United States and Russia share many common interests, even as we disagree on some issues,” Obama said.
Russia, the only major economy outside the WTO, has been trying to join the organization since 1993. The agreement of all member states is necessary for accession to the WTO, but Georgia refused to approve Russia's entry ever since the two countries fought a brief war in August 2008.
Russia and Georgia finally signed a Swiss-brokered agreement clearing the way for Russia’s WTO admission on Wednesday, including deployment of international observers to monitor the movement of goods across sections of Russia’s borders with the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.