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WTO entry must be in Russia's interest- Putin

Written by: Staff
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Moscow, May 10: President Vladimir Putin,commenting on Russia's stalled bid to become a WTO member, today said that his country should join the global trade body only if it protects Russian economic interests.

Putin, who said in March that US negotiators were creating artificial obstacles to Russian entry, said his country's entry talks ''must not become the instrument of trade on questions which have nothing to do with this organisation.'' Russia should join the World Trade Organisation ''only on the conditions that take into account the economic interests of Russia,'' Putin said at his annual keynote address to the nation.

Russia, a major energy producer that has seen its trade weight boom amid soaring world oil prices, is the biggest power still outside the currently 149-member WTO, which acts as a forum for international negotiations and a trade watchdog.

Moscow has been negotiating membership for over a decade.

Striking a trade deal with the United States is key to Russia's entry but talks with Washington have been stalled for months over violations of intellectual property rights and access to Russian financial markets.

While Putin said Russia must fight video, music and software piracy, he made no reference to opening up financial markets.

Putin alarmed financial markets last December when he said the activity of branches of foreign banks working in Russia must be banned, a remark seen by the business community as hostile.

''A necessary condition for developing new technology is more reliable protection of intellectual property. We must defend copyright inside the country. That is our obligation to our foreign partners,'' Putin said.

''We must also ensure protection of intellectual property rights of our own producers.'' Putin has said it is one of his top economic priorities to bring Russia into the Geneva-based body, a move that would ensure its exports would not face barriers in key markets.

Reuters

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