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CIS customs bloc commission to lead WTO entry talks


KHABAROVSK, June 14 (RIA Novosti) - A commission of the customs union being set up between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will negotiate on behalf of the countries in their joint accession to the World Trade Organization, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Sunday.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan earlier agreed to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO.

"We proceed from the fact that the Russian Federation made the largest advance [from among the three countries] in talks on entry to the WTO, and this will make it possible, given a correct alignment of forces and proper management process, to bring our partners up to this level and complete joint entry into the WTO within the shortest time possible," Shuvalov said.

Russia has been negotiating its entry into the WTO for more than 15 years.

To date, Russia has completed mandatory bilateral negotiations with 60 countries, but has yet to synchronize positions on several issues, including agriculture, export duties for timber, and regulation of some state-controlled companies.

Russia is the world's only major economy still outside the WTO. Consent from all 153 WTO members is necessary for a state to join the organization.

These plans, however, have been marred by the recent row between Russia and Belarus, with Moscow banning imports of Belarusian dairy products, citing violations of new Russian standards.

In response, Belarus snubbed the summit of the post-Soviet security block that opened in Moscow on Sunday.

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