July 13, 2006

Russia reaches deal with US to join WTO: FinMin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has reached a deal with the
United States paving the way for Moscow to join the World Trade
Organization, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was quoted by news
agencies as saying on Thursday.

RIA news agency quoted Kudrin as saying presidents George
W. Bush and Vladimir Putin would sign a protocol on Russia's
WTO entry when they meet in St Petersburg on Friday or
Saturday, when the annual Group of Eight summit begins.

"I hope that a protocol will be signed before the G8,
tomorrow or the day after," Kudrin was quoted by Interfax as

Kudrin said the American side had dropped a demand that
foreign banks be allowed to open branches in Russia instead of
being required to open operating subsidiaries.

No comment was obtainable from the U.S. side. Trade
Representative Susan Schwab has held two days of talks in
Moscow on Moscow's decade-old bid to join the 149-nation free
trade club.

Russia is the biggest economy outside the world trade body.
An accord with the United States would eliminate one of the
last remaining obstacles to Russia WTO membership and set a
positive tone for the G8 summit.