Russia pledges to keep high import tariffs to protect carmakers

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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's chief negotiator at WTO accession talks said Monday that the country would preserve high duties on imported cars for seven years after joining the World Trade Organization, and after that tariffs would be at least 50% above European levels. Duties on other imported products will be slashed by an average of 25%.

Maxim Medvedkov, the director of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry's trade talks department, was presiding over a three-hour-long seminar-cum-conference in Nizhny Novgorod, a city 400 kilometers from Moscow where GAZ, Russia's leading carmaker, is based.

The conference, at the city's Association of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, was devoted to the objectives facing regional enterprises and organizations in preparing to join the WTO. It was attended by several dozen executives and was closed to the press.

Medvedkov told a press conference following the meeting that he had had many meetings devoted to Russian accession to the WTO with local businessmen over the past four years, and that political discussions were beginning to give way to practical preparations for the process. Many enterprises are training specialists to work in a new economic environment.

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