21 February 2005

Russia's membership talks make good progress

The 26th meeting of the Working Party for the accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO, held 16th and 17th of February, made good progress on substantial issues although the chairman of the WP, ambassador Stefán Jóhannesson, of Iceland, said that “still a lot of work has to be done”. He also noted that “clearly progress on the bilateral market access side is accelerating”.

The main focus of the work of the two-day meeting was the examination of a “Compendium” that consolidates Members' written proposals and drafting suggestions, including commitment language for the Working Party report. The Russian delegation was able to provide detailed and substantive responses to points and proposals of Members. The extensive Russian inputs helped to clarify the factual situation, as well as to reveal where gaps remain, whether related to information or legislation or enforcement.

While pinpointing several areas in which there are difficulties in the bilateral and multilateral work with Russia, the US said that the meeting was “much more efficient than we've seen for some time”; and Australia said it was “one of the best (meetings) we can recall in terms of substance”.