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    GREF: RUSSIA'S CHANCES TO JOIN WTO IN 2004-2005 ARE SMALL

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    DOMODEVO, Moscow Region, February 10, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - German Gref, Russian Economic Development Minister, believes that Russia's chances to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) are small.

    "It is 100% impossible in 2004. This year we plan to conclude the negotiating process with the EU. If all goes well there is a chance to wrap up the talks this year," Mr. Gref said.

    "I am afraid the joining to the WTO is unlikely to occur next year, since there is a considerable bureaucratic obstacle, which we must surpass," the Minister noted.

    According to him, there can be another year and a half between the end of the talks and the actual joining. This amount of time will be necessary for the ratification of the protocol by the Russian Parliament and the WTO Ministerial conference. "We can of course strain all our nerves and do it in a year, but it's unlikely," German Gref said.

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