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European Commission - Press release

EU welcomes conclusion of negotiations on Russia's WTO accession

Brussels, 10 November 2011 - The EU has today welcomed the conclusion of negotiations for Russia's accession to the WTO. Today's unanimous approval by the Members of the Working Party on Russia's WTO accession brings an end to this 18 year long process and paves the way to formalising the results of these negotiations by the entire Membership of the WTO. The EU now looks forward to a unanimous political endorsement of Russia's WTO accession at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference on 15-17 December this year.

European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, welcomed the news saying, "I am delighted that Russia is now set to join the WTO. This is an important step for Russia's economic development and for the multilateral trading system. I'm also very pleased at this achievement today because Europe has played a critical role to ensure this long-standing goal has finally been reached. I now look forward to the upcoming WTO Ministerial in December to formally endorse Russia's accession to the WTO Membership."

The EU acknowledges the major efforts of the Russian Federation as well as its negotiating partners in finding solutions for the most difficult issues, which were resolved in the last weeks and days. The EU is also appreciative of the determination of Georgia and Russia to reach a timely resolution of their sensitive bilateral issues, and we very much welcome the efforts of the Government of Switzerland for their instrumental role in this respect.

The accession of Russia to the WTO is significant from both a multilateral and bilateral perspective. Russia as well as its trading partners will benefit from Russia's integration into the global, rules-based system of trade relations. Russia's accession to the WTO is especially important for the EU, Russia's largest trading partner. We are convinced that this step will give a major boost to further development of our economic relationship. Russia's membership in the WTO will also prove an important stepping stone for deepening the bilateral economic integration, including through the conclusion of the ongoing negotiation on the New Agreement.

Background

Benefits for the EU of having Russia in the WTO:

It would open up opportunities in the Russian market for EU investors and exporters alike. Russia's import tariffs would come down and there would be a limit on export duty levels for a list of essential raw materials.

WTO accession would improve the overall business and investment climate. Russia would adopt international product standards and WTO rules in a number of areas such as customs procedures, licensing and intellectual property.

Accession and the ensuing economic reforms would help to make Russia's economy more transparent and predictable. This would create a strong incentive for foreign companies to boost their investments in the Russian economy – in all sectors.

Russia's entry in the WTO will have an estimated value for the European Union of €3 900 million.

EU-Russia trade in facts and figures

Russia is the EU's third largest trading partner after the US and China with an 8.6% share of EU trade in 2010.

The EU is Russia's biggest trading partner with a 45.8% share of its overall trade in 2010. Total trade with Russia amounted to €244 billion in 2010, compared to €183 billion in 2009. Imports from Russia increased by 31.4% in 2010, and exports from the EU to Russia went up by 38.2%.

The EU is by far the most important investor in Russia. It is estimated that more than 75% of the investment stock comes from the EU.

Useful links:

On EU trade relations with Russia:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/bilateral-relations/countries/russia/

Statement by President Barroso on the conclusion of a bilateral agreement between Georgia and Russia on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), 3 November 2011 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/759

Contacts :

John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)

Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)


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