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Old 11-10-2006, 03:23 PM   #1
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Top Democratic senator says Russia has WTO work to do

AFP - A top Democrat in line to chair the US Senate's powerful finance committee welcomed a deal enabling Russia to join the WTO but warned the path ahead in Congress could be tricky.

"Russia's WTO membership on commercially meaningful terms is an important goal. Today's agreement is a first step in that direction," Senator Max Baucus said in a statement.

"At the same time, Russia must take additional steps to earn a welcome into the WTO," he stressed, highlighting "unacceptable levels of piracy and counterfeiting" and an "unscientific" Russian ban on US beef.

The US and Russian governments said Friday they had reached a bilateral pact that should finally permit Moscow to join the World Trade Organisation after 12 years of often stormy negotiations.

The US Congress cannot block Russia's WTO entry, but must agree to lift Cold War-era provisions to provide US and Russian businesses full access to each other's economies.

The Senate Finance Committee, along with the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, would steer any legislation to lift US restrictions on trade with Russia dating from 1974.

Baucus, who is set to take over the finance committee's chairmanship in January after the Democrats regained control of Congress in elections this week, said Russia still has to crack down on piracy of US goods.

The Montana senator said such concerns "must be addressed before Congress can endorse Russia's WTO membership and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations status".

Baucus added he looked forward to working with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab "on achieving measurable results."

Last edited by motivez; 11-10-2006 at 03:32 PM..
 
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