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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia 'Not Yet Ready For WTO'

WASHINGTON — Top trade officials from the European Union and the United States have expressed support for Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, but say the former communist giant has much more work to do.

With China set to join the WTO by the end of this year or early 2002, attention has turned to Russia as one of the few remaining large countries that still is not a member of the world trade body.

"We want Russia in the WTO the same way we want China in the WTO," European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy told reporters Tuesday at a joint news conference with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.

Russia has made good progress on bringing its goods and service trade regime in line with WTO rules, but still has "a lot of work [to do] in other areas," Lamy said.

However, Lamy said he took "seriously" a recent declaration by a Russian official that Moscow would like to join the world trade body by 2002 or 2003.

Zoellick said that the United States supported Russia's WTO membership and would further explore the issue when U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Don Evans travel to Moscow in a few weeks.

"Here's the key points. There has to be a working customs system. There has to be a working intellectual property system," Zoellick said, referring to a number of reforms that Russia still must make to modernize its economy.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin said earlier this month that joining the WTO was Russia's No. 1 priority.