GENEVA — Russia has successfully completed its 18-year bid to join the World Trade Organization after a deal was reached with its southern adversary, Georgia, senior diplomats familiar with the issue said.
“It’s a done deal,” said one top trade envoy close to both Russia and Georgia, who requested anonymity.
Meanwhile, an Obama administration official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WWD: “We are pleased with the progress made to date on Russia’s WTO accession bid and continue to consult closely with Congress and stakeholders.
“We remain confident that Russia will be formally invited to join the WTO at the Ministerial Conference in December,” the official said.
Russia is expected to join the organization during the biannual WTO meeting of trade ministers to be held in Geneva on Dec. 15 to 17.
A senior WTO trade diplomat said the Russian entry terms will be “better and more liberal” than those of China, which joined the WTO in 2001, and will include average tariffs in single digits.
Russia was the world’s 12th-largest exporter in 2010 with shipments of goods worth $400 billion and 18th-largest importer with inward-bound goods valued at $248 billion, which includes $7 billion in apparel goods.
The breakthrough came after the Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey held talks with her Russian and Georgia counterparts in Moscow and Tbilisi on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, which resulted in a scheme to govern the transfer of goods between the neighboring nations and the two breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Top western officials said the deal also had the blessing of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.