Progress possible on new partnership accord if Russia obeys WTO rules - EU official

A new cooperation agreement that will lay the groundwork for the strategic partnership between the European Union and Russia for many years will hopefully be signed in the future, but Russia first ought to bring its policies in line with World Trade Organization rules, a high-ranking European official told journalists on condition of anonymity in Brussels on Wednesday,

A full partnership will become possible when such measures are taken, he said. The EU really wants common rules to be valid in the territory stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok because it could simplify trade, the official said.

The EU played a decisive role in Russia's accession to the WTO, he added.

Russia joined this organization after 18 years of negotiations, which is a very good piece of news, and from now on Russia should act in total compliance with WTO rules, the official said.

Several decisions adopted by the Russian authorities run counter to WTO standards, which is negatively effecting the negotiations on the new Russia-EU cooperation agreement, he said.

An EU Trade Commission expert, for his part, said that Russia's failure to meet all of its WTO obligations had created a number of difficulties.

The expert referred to the situation surrounding the recycling tax levied on car imports to the Russian market.

Russia introduced this tax allegedly to protect the environment, but, in reality, the tax applies to cars imported to Russia but does not apply to cars produced in Russia, which contradicts WTO rules, he said.

Since cars are Europe's key export to Russia, such a measure is discriminatory, the expert said.

Russia's ban on live cattle imports from Europe comes as another serious violation of WTO rules, the expert said.

The European Commission totally disagrees with the scientific arguments put forth by Russia, he said.

In all, Russia's protectionist measures cost the EU billions of euro, he said.

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