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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cabinet Sets Guidelines For Arguing WTO Case

Russia decided on a set of measures Friday aimed at helping the country enter the World Trade Organization as support for its accession came from the United States and the European Union.

Russian news agencies quoted Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref as saying after a Cabinet meeting that the government had approved guidelines for its negotiators at the next round of WTO talks.

It has also decided to make a list of regulations that are inconsistent with international standards and then phase out such standards, he said. Russia has said it wants to enter the global trade body in 2002 or 2003, but faces tough talks.

Gref said the main areas that had been criticized were standards of certification in Russia, which had been highlighted as being too burdensome and costly for businesses.

Gref said Russia needed to get into the WTO and was pinning his hopes on the next round of talks, expected to start in December or January.

Russia has lobbied hard for WTO entry, despite opposition from some parts of its industrial and agricultural sectors.

However, it says it needs a transition period of up to 10 years.

Russia's WTO ambitions received further support from visiting U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans, part of a delegation including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

One major sticking point has been over steel, which Russia has been able to export little of to the United States due to anti-dumping legislation.

U.S. and Russian negotiators are set to hold further negotiations in the next few months on global overcapacity in the industry, Evans said Friday after talks in Moscow.

Evans said agreement for more steel talks was reached at the meeting with Gref.

"We talked about steel and the importance of it to our own economies and the world economy. We talked about the importance of having positive kinds of discussions to solve a global overcapacity of steel," Evans said.

U.S. officials have said they consider Russia a country that keeps old inefficient steel mills in production.

He said the teams would meet in the "coming months" and said their task would be to analyze data on steel production and find out where there is surplus capacity.

He said Russia and the United States had ongoing steel talks, but negotiations next time around would be more concrete.

"We are going to sit down, and we will list what our concerns are and they will list their concerns and we will have a very specific kind of protocol for taking steps to see if we can find a constructive solution," he said.

President George W. Bush has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate whether import restrictions are needed to help the ailing domestic industry.

Earlier this week, Bethlehem Steel Corp., the No. 2 U.S. steelmaker, reported a $120 million, or $1 a share, loss for the second quarter before unusual items.

It said it continued to be concerned about the high level of excess world steel capacity and the threat this poses of what it called "unfairly traded steel imports."