GENEVA, July 17 -- Russia promised Monday to make more sweeping economic reforms to liberalize trade in a bid to gain full membership of the World Trade Organization. WTO member states met formally for the first time Monday to start Russia's accession process to the multilateral trading system, which is expected to take at least two to three years.
In a speech to the WTO working party studying Russia's participation, Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Davydov said the meeting was an 'event of extraordinary importance' for Russia. 'Russia's membership will result in its huge market becoming effectively integrated into the international trading system,' Davydov said. 'Within a set of negotiated contractual obligations that Russia will assume, our trade partners will enjoy stable and predictable access to its markets for good, services and capital.' 'In the course of the forthcoming negotiations we are prepared to work on Russia's terms of accession which would promote settlement of problems that the Russian economy is faced with and, at the same time, meet the interests of the WTO members,' Davydov said. Moscow made its formal application to join the world trade body last December although in 1990 it held observer status under the banner of the Soviet Union.