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#9 - JRL 7006
Russia must accept compromises on WTO entry - US envoy

Moscow, 5 January: US Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow believes that Russia should make compromises by allowing foreign companies to enter its market if it hopes for rapid entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"I'm moderately optimistic about the possibilities for Russia to become a WTO member in the near future," Vershbow told Interfax.

Entering the WTO does not mean that the market has to be opened up at once, he said. "All the other parties are prepared to be flexible and respect Russia's interests in its own economic transformation", but "reasonable compromises will need to be found on this issue if rapid entry into the WTO is going to be possible", he said.

"The big question is: can Russia in the year before elections make the necessary decisions to find reasonable compromises on access to the Russian market in such sensitive areas as financial services, banking, insurance, civil aviation, motor vehicles, agriculture and telecommunications, where a balance will need to be found between protecting industries that are still in transition and providing access to other traders," the ambassador said.

In the first half of 2003, there will be "an accelerated calendar of negotiations on different sectors of the economy that will need to be the subject of compromises between Russia and the other major trading nations and blocs, the USA, the EU, Japan and China", he said.

In general, Russia has a commitment to "complete the legislative changes that are needed in Russian law to qualify for the WTO", Vershbow said.

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