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U.S. Trade Representative Kirk Welcomes Invitation to Russia to Join the World Trade Organization

Geneva, Switzerland – U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk today welcomed today’s decision of Ministers at the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference formally inviting the Russian Federation to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Russia’s accession is good for the United States, good for Russia, and good for the WTO. This marks an important turning point in making the WTO truly a ‘world’ trade organization,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Russia's market access commitments and the steps that it is taking with regard to intellectual property rights, information technology, SPS, transparency, and the full range of WTO rules and disciplines will create a new and stronger basis for conducting trade relations between our countries.”

Ambassador Kirk emphasized the determination of President Obama and his Administration to work vigorously with the U.S. Congress to enact legislation enabling the United States to fully benefit from Russia’s membership in the WTO.

In his statement at today’s Ministerial Conference session on Russia’s accession, Ambassador Kirk emphasized the importance – for Russia, the United States, and the WTO as an institution – of inviting the largest economy to remain outside the WTO system to join this organization.

Full Statement by Ambassador Kirk
Regarding the Invitation to Russia to Join the WTO
- As Prepared for Delivery -

“Mr. Chairman, President Calmy-Rey, Director-General, First Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov, distinguished Ministers:

“Today’s Decision on the Accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO represents the culmination of a long process, and is a moment of great significance for this institution.

“President Obama established the conclusion of negotiations on Russia’s accession to this organization as a major priority in our country’s relationship with Russia. The President and all of us within his Administration are delighted to celebrate with Russia an outstanding achievement. Today, we observe a development that will truly make this a ‘world’ trade organization.

“Today’s accomplishment is the result of much hard work and dedication, and I would like to offer a few acknowledgments.

“Mr. Chairman, any accession process is fundamentally a collaboration among Members, and that has shown itself in the process of the negotiations on Russia’s accession. I want to single out a few for special praise.

“President Calmy-Rey, we thank the Swiss Confederation for its exceptional efforts, working with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Georgia, to bring a critical element of this process to a good conclusion. Your tireless efforts are a testimonial to the best qualities and traditions of the host country of this organization. Under your leadership, Russia and Georgia both exercised their upmost utmost flexibility and creativity to come to a good deal. We have confidence that the same spirit will prevail as that agreement is implemented. Again, to our Swiss friends -- you have our thanks.

“We also acknowledge the incredible efforts of the WTO Secretariat and of the Chairman of Russia’s Working Party, Ambassador Johannesson, for their contributions to bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion.

“Of course the successful conclusion of the accession negotiations is above all a tribute to the Russian team – an extraordinarily hard-working group of professionals that represented their country with incredible skill, patience, dedication, and good humor. And enormous credit must go to Russia’s political leadership, including the distinguished First Deputy Prime Minister, for their far-sighted commitment and recognition of the importance of Russia’s full integration into the international economic system.

“For the United States, today represents an important milestone in our relationship with the Russian Federation, and advances President Obama's determination to expand the economic dimensions of a bilateral relationship traditionally dominated by political and security affairs.

“Russia’s accession is good for the United States, good for Russia, and good for the WTO. Russia's market access commitments and the steps that it is taking with regard to intellectual property rights, information technology, SPS, transparency, and the full range of WTO rules and disciplines will create a new and stronger basis for conducting trade relations between our countries.

“WTO accession also clearly advances Russia's own objectives in terms of diversification and modernization of its economy, and integration in the global economy. Russia is growing, and with WTO Membership that growth will be enhanced, solidified, and made more sustainable.

“For the WTO as an institution, today's decision clearly represents an important step. We can all have confidence that the thoroughness of the accession negotiations lays a sound foundation for solid collaboration with the Russian Federation when they take up their obligations as a Member of the WTO.

“Again, Mr. Chairman – today’s Decision represents a cause for celebration as we make this institution fundamentally more inclusive. I again offer our deepest appreciation for the dedication of Russia’s leaders and negotiators in making this possible.”