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    WORKING GROUP ON RUSSIA'S JOINING WTO TO HOLD REGULAR MEETING IN JULY 2004

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    GENEVA, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - The next meeting of the Working Group on Russia's joining the World Trade Organization is scheduled for early July 2004, Maksim Medvedkov, deputy economic development and trade minister, said Friday.

    The decision on the exact terms of the new session will be taken by the group's chairman in the beginning of June upon consideration of documents Russia is to submit before April this year, he added.

    A session of the Working Group on Russia's joining the WTO that discussed ten parts of the Group's final report was held in Geneva on Friday.

    "We've discussed all the ten parts. Everybody was very enthusiastic about reforms of the state management system taking place here, including customs service," Mr. Medvedkov said.

    In his words, the main claims in regard to these parts were put down to measures of veterinary and phyto-sanitary control, to restriction of customs checkpoints, as well as to the situation around technical regulation.

    "The European Union delegation and a number of other countries said there remained only a few open questions on merchandise. We may draw a conclusion that we may soon complete talks on goods with a number of countries," Mr. Medvedkov said.

    However, in his words, some countries, for example, Bulgaria, significantly deteriorated their negotiating positions in regard to Russia.

    "We hope this is a misunderstanding. There must have been a technical mistake somewhere," the deputy minister said.

    "Under the optimistic scenario, if we are able to complete the discussion of the report at the July session, then in July-August, a new version will be prepared, with which we will enter the summer season," he said.

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