GENEVA, June 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia signed Tuesday a bilateral agreement on accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) with Guatemala, and completed talks with Vietnam, sources with the Russian mission at the UN and other international organizations said.
Russia, which has been seeking membership of the 150-member organization, has yet to sign bilateral agreements with Vietnam and Cambodia, and will also have to resume the negotiating process with Georgia and start talks with Saudi Arabia.
Maxim Medvedkov, director for trade talks at the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and head of the Russian delegation, said June 10 that Russia, the largest economy outside the international trade alliance, expected to complete bilateral WTO negotiations with Guatemala, Vietnam, and Cambodia this summer.
Georgia earlier said it would cease to block Russia's bid to join the WTO only after Moscow honors its 2004 commitment to close down its border checkpoints with Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Russian WTO Accession project has been in progress since September 2005 and is expected to continue until the end of 2007, when Russia could finally join the organization.
Russia expects WTO membership to promote further its market reform and ensure better transparency as well as provide a secure business environment for trade and investment. Membership will also help Russia diversify its economy, participate in projects to develop future common trade rules and secure its interests.
Other countries, including the European Union, believe Russian participation in international organizations and in particular the WTO would lead to better commitment from its political leaders to the international community and increased support for closer cooperation. The West also expects limitations on the role of government in the domestic economy, which will improve competition and further liberalize the Russian economy.