Russia's EU Representative: Moscow to honor its WTO commitments

Russia's entry into the WTO will facilitate trade with the European Union and make it more transparent, Russian Permanent Representative to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told Interfax on Thursday with regard to the European Parliament debate on EU-Russia trade in the context of Russia's WTO membership.

"Naturally, the entry into the WTO, which became possible after 18 years of hard negotiations, was a compromise, a hard compromise in certain fields. Every compromise implies mutual concessions, Russian concessions included. We should not have an illusion that the signing or even the ratification of this agreement will solve every problem," he said.

The European Parliament communique said that deputies would discuss effects of the Russian admission to the WTO on Russia-EU trade.

The parliamentarians suspect that Russia might take the minimalist position on its WTO obligations.

The communique noted that unsettled problems with the third biggest trade partner of the EU included customs procedures, European airlines' flights over Siberia, rights to export Russian timber and Russian bans on food and cattle imports under sanitary and phytosanitary pretexts.

"Regarding hints to Russia's possible minimization of its WTO obligations, in my opinion, these obligations are rather specific and give no chance for their minimalist or maximalist interpretation. They are clear. Naturally, we will meet the obligations we have undertaken," Chizhov said.

"The Russian economy has yet to digest the WTO membership conditions," he said.

"I'd rather not guess how much time that may take but I can say, with a sufficient degree of assuredness, that the process will not be easy. Therefore, we count on EU understanding," Chizhov said.

"Naturally, in the course of digesting these terms and adapting the Russian economy to the WTO conditions, it will be hard to discuss any significant steps towards further liberalization of our trade and investments, in particular, with the EU, and this circumstance complicates the negotiations on the new fundamental agreement," the Russian official said.

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