Vol. 5 Num 698 Wed. May 17, 2006  

Russia to sign WTO trade deal with Colombia

Russia was to sign a trade deal with Colombia on Tuesday as part of its bid to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a Russian negotiator said.

"Russia will today sign an agreement with Colombia on the completion of negotiations for the Russian Federation's entry into the WTO," Andrei Kushnirenko, a Russian economy ministry official involved in the talks, was cited by the ITAR-TASS news agency as saying.

Talks with Colombia had been stalled over access for Colombian sugar to the Russian market, ITAR-TASS said.

Bilateral agreements with existing WTO members are a precondition for joining the 149-member trade body.

Russia has signed such a similar deal with the European Union, its main trading partner, but has yet to come to an agreement with Australia and the United States.

Moscow, which launched its bid to join the WTO in 1993, has had to put off its targeted entry date for joining the Geneva-based global trade body several times.