WTO Officially Accepts Russian Membership

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 12:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The World Trade Organization has officially accepted Russia as a member, after 18 years of negotiations.

A meeting of ministers from the trade body's existing 153 member countries gave final approval Friday to membership for Russia, which in return has agreed to measures including a cap on tariffs, limits on subsidies and allowing foreign banks to operate more freely in Russia.

The WTO membership will become effective after Russia's parliament ratifies the agreement. That is expected early next year.

Russia is the last of the world's major economies to join the WTO, which establishes and monitors global trade rules. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy has said Russia's membership will bring it more firmly into the global economy and make the country a more attractive place to do business.

Russia first applied for WTO membership in 1993. Under the organization's rules, approval could be held up by any other member country. The last roadblock to membership was cleared when Russia signed an agreement with Georgia for independent monitoring of all trade between the two countries, including Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia supports the two separatist regions, and Russia and Georgia fought a brief war over the dispute in 2008.