ST. PETERSBURG, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow and the EU could complete WTO accession talks before the end of the year, the economic development minister said on Thursday.
"There is a feeling that we are about to reach an agreement with the EU. We hope to complete the negotiations by the end of the year," Elvira Nabiullina said after a meeting with EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.
The Russian minister said the talks would continue and a working group on Russia's accession to the WTO would hold the next round on June 15-16 while she would have another meeting with Ashton on June 24-25.
Moscow's point man on the WTO said it would take Russia at least six months after the completion of talks to formally join the organization.
"We have indeed achieved a common understanding with the EU that negotiations will be completed before the end of the year. But no matter what, at least half a year will have to pass between the completion of talks and accession," Maxim Medvedkov said.
The Russian and U.S. presidents earlier instructed their governments to expedite Russia's accession to the global trade body.
Russia has been negotiating its entry into the WTO for more than 15 years.
To date, Russia has completed the mandatory bilateral negotiations with 60 countries concerned, but has yet to synchronize positions on several issues, including agriculture, export duties for timber, and regulation of some state-controlled companies.
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.