Russia might not commit to liberalizing trade at Doha WTO talks - Medvedkov

Russia, as a country that only recently joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), might not assume many of the commitments to liberalize trade that are approved during the Doha round of talks, Maxim Medvedkov, head of trade negotiations at the Russian Economic Development Ministry, told Interfax.

"Russia would like to see [the Doha round] wrap up as quickly as possible if only for pragmatic reasons - we, as a recently acceded member, will not be assuming many of the Doha round's commitments to liberalize access to markets for goods and services, but we will be able to take advantage of the obligations of other countries," he said.

Medvedkov said subjects like the further reduction of import tariffs, liberalizing access to the services market, and tightening and reducing commitments to support agriculture, would be discussed during the Doha round.

The Doha round and campaign against protectionism would be among the themes of Russia's G20 presidency "and we are drafting proposals on those these now," Medvedkov said.

He said the situation in the context of the Doha round was "not straightforward right now". "Negotiations are fragmentary and about secondary issues. I think there are several reasons for this. Many experts think the main one is that those who initiated the round set the bar too high - many WTO members are clearly not ready for this."

"Countries that have always been regarded as emerging economies but which have in the past decade been able to give many developed countries a head start in terms of the pace and quality of economic development are refusing to abandon their traditional preferences, and countries that have always been considered to be developed want a leveling of entitlements and obligations."

"A solution will be found sooner or later because there is no serious alternative to the WTO as a regulator of international trade. As far as Russia is concerned, our position will probably be determined with respect to each issue individually. In some respects it will be to our benefit to consolidate with the emerging countries, and in others with the developed ones," he said.

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