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Completion of Working Party Negotiations for the Accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO
November 10, 2011

Remarks of Christopher Wilson
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs

On the Occasion of the Completion of Working Party Negotiations
for the Accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO

November 10, 2011


Mr. Chairman:

To risk stating the obvious, this meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO represents a moment of great significance for this institution.  It is a moment for celebration, and also for a few acknowledgments.

First, Mr. Chairman, the United States acknowledges your indispensable role as our guide in this process.  We thank you for your wisdom, your sound judgment, and your commitment to working with the Russian Federation and all Members to shepherd us to this point.  We are particularly grateful for these efforts in light of your important and demanding responsibilities on behalf of your own country, and we wish you well in those endeavours.

We express deep appreciation to the Secretariat for its efforts, its expertise, and its attentiveness to transparency and the needs of Members.  I would especially acknowledge our friend Chiedu Osawke and all of his terrific staff.  It is also important today to remember previous occupants of the Accessions Divisions who contributed so much in earlier stages of this lengthy process.

I also want to thank Director General Lamy and Deputy Director General Jara for their careful stewardship of this process.

Mr. Chairman, any accession process is fundamentally a collaboration among Members, and that has shown itself in the work of all Members of this Working Party.  All have contributed.  But I believe we can all agree that one Member contributed in a particularly important manner.

Switzerland, we thank you for your exceptional efforts, working with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Georgia, to bring a critical element of this process to a good conclusion.  Your tireless efforts are a testimonial to the best qualities and traditions of the host country of this organization.  Under your leadership both Russia and Georgia stretched in order to come to a good deal.  We have confidence that the same spirit will prevail as that agreement is implemented.  Again, to our Swiss friends — you have our thanks.

Of course the Russian team deserves the biggest credit for enabling the successful conclusion of this Working Party.  The team sitting in the middle of the room is, as we all know, an extraordinarily hard-working group of professionals.  Fortunately, they have also been blessed with a lot of patience and good humor.  Maksim and his team have represented their country with incredible skill, patience, and dedication, and they have clearly reflected the commitment of their nation’s leadership with regard to WTO membership.

For the United States, today represents an important milestone in our relationship with the Russian Federation, and advances President Obama’s determination to expand the economic dimensions of a bilateral relationship traditionally dominated by political and security affairs.

The package that we have approved today is good for the United States, good for Russia, and good for the WTO.  Like all Members, we have worked hard to ensure a result that can be welcomed by our stakeholders.  Russia’s market access commitments, and the steps that it is taking with regard to intellectual property rights, information technology, SPS, transparency, and the range of WTO rules and disciplines creates a new and stronger basis for conducting trade relations between our countries.

This package also clearly advances Russia’s own objectives in terms of diversification, modernization, and integration in the global economy.  Russia is growing, and with WTO Membership that growth will be enhanced, solidified, and made more sustainable.

For the WTO as an institution, today’s decision and its consideration by the 8th Ministerial Conference in December clearly represent important steps.  It has been a long time since the WTO welcomed an economy of Russia’s size.  As with any accession, this will involve adjustments, both for the new Member, and for existing Members of the institution.  We can all have confidence that the thoroughness of this Working Party’s deliberations lays a sound foundation for solid collaboration with the Russian Federation as a Member of the WTO.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, on a more personal note, I would like to recognize our friend Maksim Medvedkov for his dedication, judgment, friendship and, perhaps above all, his sense of humor throughout this process.  Today marks an important achievement for each and every one of us in this room, but for no one more than Max.  Bravo Max!  And please get some rest.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.