CSMS Magazine Staff WritersAccording to Russia’s Trade Ministry, a bilateral agreement between Washington and Moscow over the country’s entry to the World Trade Organization is within reach. A spoke person from the Ministry informed the press that the agreement with Washington could be signed in 2 weeks.This was Russia’s main aim during the last Group of Eight Summit, which it hosted in St. Petersburg in July. However, talks foundered over sanitary inspections for U.S. beef and pork imports. Russia had refused a U.S. demand for an immediate increase in imports of American beef and pork before Russia completed a review of America’s food inspection system, due to be finished this month.”I think that in the coming two weeks we will reach a final agreement,” Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref was quoted as telling his Latvian counterpart Aygar Shtokenbergs. The minister confirmed, “The sanitary review was nearing completion.”Gref could not hide his frustration regarding the issue of inspections, which had delayed the long awaited deal. He also stressed that politics had to do with it.”Unfortunately, these are trivial things,” he said, according to RIA-Novosti. “It is a $10 million question—at most $20 million. Because of it, an enormous number of issues that are worth billions have been held up,” he said.”This is not exactly a pragmatic position, rather a politicized one. And our American colleagues acknowledge this. But in Congress there is a big agrarian lobby and for them this trivia is of great significance.”Russia is the largest economy outside the 149-member WTO and has been negotiating for over a decade to join. This is a prize that the Russian nouveaux riches have been longing for. But the looming of a negotiated deal does not necessarily mean an automatic entry for Russia. Even in the event of a swift deal with the U.S., observers have suggested that multilateral talks are at least two years from completion.Despite enormous industrial potential of Russia, its complete volt-a-face from the Bolshevik revolution and its grand desire to remain in the G-8, the western capitalist powers do not seem ready to forgive the country that broke the Nazis backbone and paved the way for the fascist demise. Russia’s nationalism (even bourgeois) and its protectionist policies against western capitalist adventurism are the main obstacles that keep putting Russia at odds with its western counterparts.Also see Russia and the G-8: http://www.csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060714I170
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