July 15, 2006

No final deal on Russia WTO entry bid — U.S

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russian and U.S. trade
negotiators have failed in marathon talks to strike a bilateral
deal to pave the way for Russia to join the World Trade
Organization, a U.S. trade spokesman said on Saturday.

"A final agreement has not been reached, but significant
progress was made," Sean Spicer, spokesman for U.S. Trade
Representative Susan Schwab, told Reuters.

Schwab's team negotiated into the early hours of Saturday
morning with their Russian counterparts headed by Economy
Minister German Gref, but failed to reach an understanding on
admitting U.S. farm produce to the Russian market.

Negotiators working virtually non-stop since mid-week had
been under pressure to reach a deal before presidents George W.
Bush and Vladimir Putin held a working meeting at the Group of
Eight summit in St Petersburg.

It now appeared likely that the presidents would not make
any major political statements on Russia's 13-year-old WTO bid,
but that negotiations would continue at a later date, a U.S.
source said.

Russia is the largest country outside the 149-member trade
club, and a bilateral deal with Washington would remove the
last major obstacle to its accession.