Russia's WTO membership approved

Updated: 2011-12-17 01:21

By Zhang Haizhou (

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GENEVA - Russia finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday, after 18 years of effort.

The world's 11th biggest economy is the last of the G20 countries to join the WTO and became its 154th member. Russia's entry means the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are now fully represented in the WTO.

Nigerian Trade Minister Olusegun Olutoyin Aganga struck a gavel to announce that the 8th WTO ministerial meeting here had agreed to accept the bid. Russia had to first reach bilateral agreements with 57 of its current 153 members to secure their support.

Russia, Europe's third largest export market, applied in 1993 to join the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade, which is institutionalized as the WTO in 1995.

The world's major economies including the US, European Union (EU), and China all offered their support for Russia's WTO membership over the past years. Georgia had tried to block Russia's WTO entry since the two countries fought a short war in 2008.

The eruption of war and an unsuccessful attempt to jointly enter the WTO with Kazakhstan and Belarus further delayed Russia's accession.

Russia managed to reach a deal with Georgia in early November, opening the way for its acceptance. It was an agreement where neighbors said a Swiss company would monitor trade between them.