U.S., Russia fail to reach WTO agreement - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

U.S., Russia fail to reach WTO agreement

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Posted: Saturday, July 15, 2006 8:17 am | Updated: 3:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Negotiations on Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization broke off with no agreement being reached, U.S. and Russian officials said Saturday.

The talks ended because of differences over assurances the United States was seeking that Russia would accept greater amounts of U.S. farm goods.

President Bush, speaking at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said intensive talks did not result in a deal because the administration believed Russia needed to offer more in trade concessions to satisfy the Congress.

"We're tough negotiators and the reason why is because we want the agreement that we reach to (be) accepted by our U.S. Congress," Bush said.

He said both sides would continue to negotiate to get a deal. The United States is the only country that has yet to sign off on Russia's membership in the WTO.

Bush blamed "false reporting" in the press for raising hopes that a deal could be reached. "Well, it was almost reached," the president said. "There is more work to be done."

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters that "significant progress" had been made in narrowing differences and the hope was that the agreement could be completed "in the next couple of months."

Russian trade negotiator Maxim Medvedkov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the deal would not be signed "either today or in coming weeks."

The failure to reach an agreement dashed the hopes of Putin to burnish the first Group of Eight summit on Russian soil with an economic triumph his government has been seeking for years.

Russia, the largest economy to remain outside of the 149-nation WTO, sees membership as a way to demonstrate how far the country has come since its severe economic collapse in 1998.

Hopes for an agreement had been raised when Schwab traveled to Moscow earlier this week for intensive negotiations with Russian Economic and Trade Minister German Gref.

The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Medvedkov as saying that one of the stumbling blocks was an impasse over Russian tariffs on the sale of American airplanes. Russia has imposed high import tariffs for foreign planes as a way to protect its beleaguered aircraft industry.

But Schwab disputed that contention, saying the negotiation over manufacturing tariffs was essentially completed. She also said that "incredible progress" had been made in getting commitments from the Russians to deal with rampant piracy of American copyrighted movies, music and computer programs but that the United States needed more assurances that Russia will remove various types of barriers on farm products.

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