10 Jul 2009 17:48

Customs Union members may join WTO separately

L'AQUILA. July 10 (Interfax) - Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan might join the World Trade Organization (WTO) separately, but only after they complete all coordination procedures within the Customs Union they are building now, said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"There are two ways. The first way is the Customs Union's accession [to the WTO], which would be elegant but quite problematic. Another way of accession would be to join the WTO separately after coordinating common standards and positions within the Customs Union troika, which I think is the simplest and the most realistic way," Medvedev said at a press conference following the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

Medvedev noted that the rights and interests of all the members of the Customs Union must be observed. "Then that will perhaps make it possible to proceed at different speeds toward entry," he said.

Russia has not decided against joining the WTO, he said. "The goal remains. There must be no doubt about that," he said.

Previously "there was no movement on the path to WTO entry," he said.

"Last year we agreed with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev that we would accelerate formation of the Customs Union if we didn't join the WTO by summer," Medvedev said, adding that neither Russia, Kazakhstan nor Belarus was admitted to the WTO.