Report: Russia, EU close to WTO deal

Report: Russia, EU close to WTO deal

Russian and European trade ministers are ready to sign off on an agreement for Russia to join the World Trade Organization, the news agency ITAR-Tass reported.

Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref said at the opening of bilateral talks with a European Union delegation in Moscow on Thursday that Russia and the European Union might sign a bilateral agreement on Russia's accession to the WTO on May 21.

"The six-year marathon that involved the work of hundreds of people is close to its end. Today we've received the government mandate to sign the relevant agreement with the European Union," Gref said.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, who led the EU delegation, said that he was also set to sign the final package on Friday.

Published reports said that after a seven-year transitional period that will follow Russia's final entry to the WTO the average import duty for European companies will shrink from 11.9 to 10.5 percent, in part to protect import duties on EU agricultural products.