Russia Will Compromise After Joining WTO

Russia wants to renegotiate a few current trade agreements and is only ready to lower tariffs and liberalize trade after joining the World Trade Organization, its top negotiator was quoted as saying Thursday.

Russia has been negotiating membership of the global trade body for over a decade, but hopes of a deal by year end have been dashed as relations with the West have deteriorated over Russia's military action in Georgia.

"At the moment, by carrying out certain obligations we are paying for air," Russia's chief WTO negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview.

"Clearly, the process of accession is linked to compromises. It's necessary to make a payment in the form of lowering tariffs and liberalizing trade. Moscow is ready for that, but after joining WTO."

On Monday, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia saw no advantages to WTO membership and should freeze some commitments made during entry talks.

Analysts interpreted the comments as a response to some Western officials' suggestions that Russia's membership of the Group of Eight and its WTO bid could be at risk over its actions in Georgia.

Medvedkov said some 10 to 12 agreements on the trade of goods were currently in operation and that Russia would probably propose changes only to the few of them that it finds "uncomfortable."

Which deals could be up for renegotiation will likely be decided in one to two weeks.

"I expect that already by the end of September we will have a clear picture with regards to [trade] agreements," Medvedkov said.