ZOELLICK’S FOCUS SHIFTS TO RUSSIA

WASHINGTON — Now that China and Taiwan are poised to become members of the 142-nation World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is seeking to focus on accession talks with Russia.
Zoellick, in Moscow through Saturday, is continuing the administration’s high-level economic dialog with Russian government officials, members of the Duma, as well as Russian and American business leaders, including members of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has identified WTO membership for Russia as a priority for his administration and negotiations have accelerated over the last year.
“Russia’s continuing integration into the global trading system is good for American workers, farmers, businesses, consumers and investors,” said Zoellick in a statement. “It also promotes economic reform, the rule of law and a transparent and predictable investment climate in Russia.”
“The [WTO] discussions are expected to be lengthy because Russia’s economy is changing from a socialist, planned economy to an open, competitive economy, and that’s not expected to happen soon,” said Julia Hughes, vice president of international trade with the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel.
In terms of total trade, Russia is not a major supplier — it ranks 35th. It accounts for only 0.37 percent of total textile and apparel trade, Hughes said.

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