27 June 2005

Russia calls for flexibility as chair expresses concern about amount of work left

Russian Economics Minister German Gref asked members on 24 June 2005 to understand Russia’s difficulty in trying to transform itself quickly into a market economy and complete its membership agreement by the end of the year. But a large amount of work remains, according to the membership negotiations’ chairperson and current members.

The Minister of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation, German Gref, addressed the XXVIII meeting of the Working Party for the accession of Russia to the WTO, Friday 24th of June 2005.

Minister Gref asked Members for flexibility and understanding in view of the difficulties of transforming Russia into a market economy in a short period of time. He reaffirmed Russia's commitment not to ask for transitional periods to comply with fundamental WTO principles like the SPS and TBT agreements. He also expressed hope that an agreement can be reached by the Sixth WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in early December.

But the chairman of the Working Party, ambassador Stefan Johannesson, of Iceland, expressed some concern about the current pace of work, and some Members said that to accelerate the work it is essential that Russia provides new material to update several chapters of the draft Working Party report that need revision.