U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says the United States welcomes the announcement that the European Union and Russia have resolved remaining bilateral issues in the context of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. This development marks an important advance in Russia's effort to conclude multilateral negotiations so that Russia may be formally invited to join the WTO in December.
Kirk says with regard to the multilateral process, a number of important issues remain to be resolved. These include final agreement on Russia's automotive investment program, Russia's commitment to join the WTO Information Technology Agreement, and certain issues related to trade in agriculture.
Meanwhile, in other WTO news, ambassadors from WTO member governments have confirmed that the upcoming December Ministerial Conference in Geneva should set a deadlock-breaking path for the Doha Round perhaps by starting on issues where an early agreement might be possible. Speaking at an informal meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee, which oversees talks in all Doha Round subjects, the ambassadors agreed with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy that this should be one of the messages of the December conference.
They also agreed that the Doha Round is at an impasse, that there is little chance of the membership concluding the negotiations in all subjects in the near future as they had originally intended, but that they do not want to give up the objectives of the negotiations, which were launched in Doha in 2001.
Lamy told the ambassadors that his consultations in Geneva and around the world showed some convergence emerging around the idea of moving ahead in subjects where progress can be achieved, by reaching agreements on specific issues before weaving them into the full set of issues in the talks.