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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedkov Sees No WTO Deal This Year

Russia will not gain admission to the World Trade Organization this year, the country's chief negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, told reporters Monday.

Bilateral talks with the United States, Costa Rica, Georgia and Moldova must still be completed for Russia to join the 149-member global trade body, and tough negotiations on agriculture subsidies are expected this fall.

"This year, Russia will not join the WTO," Medvedkov said during a business conference in the Siberian city of Tyumen, Interfax reported Monday. "There is still a chance" to gain WTO membership next summer, he said, adding that all bilateral talks were expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Yaroslav Lissovolik, chief economist at Deutsche UFG, said Medvedkov was merely voicing the general expectation that emerged after Russia-U.S. talks stalled last month.

This would delay benefits to the steel and chemicals manufacturing industries that would be derived from gaining easier access to foreign markets via WTO membership, Lissovolik said Monday.

Russia and the United States failed to bridge their differences last month, when a bilateral agreement was widely anticipated at the G8 summit.

Washington's chief negotiator in the talks, Susan Schwab, said that access for U.S. meat producers to the Russian market became a stumbling block during the latest round of Russia-U.S. talks.

Costa Rica's agriculture lobby is also pushing for greater liberalization of Russia's sugar market as a prerequisite to Russia joining the WTO. The talks with Costa Rica will continue in September, Medvedkov told Itar-Tass last week.

Medvedkov said Monday that Russia had nearly completed negotiations on customs for agricultural products, Interfax reported.

"A serious question, which we haven't approached, has to do with the resources the federal budget would allocate for agriculture," Medvedkov said, adding that talks on this were scheduled for the fall. "The negotiations obviously won't be easy," he said, Interfax reported.

Russia spends about $3.5 billion to $4 billion on agricultural subsidies from the federal and regional budgets, Medvedkov said, Interfax reported.

Earlier this month, Medvedkov said that the sticking points with Moldova and Georgia, including Russia's ban on Moldovan and Georgian wines, would be reviewed in the fall.

The Georgian Embassy in Moscow declined to comment on the WTO negotiations on Monday. A spokeswoman at the Moldovan Embassy in Moscow said she did not have any information on bilateral talks. Moldova's chief WTO negotiator, Octavian Calmic, could not be immediately reached at his office in Chisinau on Monday.

"Moldova supports Russia's entry to the WTO in principle, but on the condition that … problems in our bilateral relations are solved," Calmic told Reuters in May.