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Russia gets invitation to join WTO

Russian negotiator Maxim Medvedkov with a t-shirt he received from WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy in November. Russia could soon official join the organization.

Jeremy Hobson: Ministers from the World Trade Organization are meeting in Geneva today and they're about to send an invitation to Russia to join the group. It'll be the biggest addition since China joined 10 years ago.

But it  does have its downsides for Russia, as Peter van Dyk reports from Moscow.


Peter van Dyk: Russia is the last big world economy outside the WTO. It's taken 18 years to agree the terms; that shows lingering doubts both inside and outside Russia.

Sergei Yushin heads Russia's National Meat Association.

Sergei Yushin: Russia would need about eight to ten more years to pursue independent industrial and agricultural policy to get ready to be more competitive when we really enter this WTO world.

Yushin says Russia's agricultural sector is just taking off, and a flood of cheap imports from the U.S. and Europe would set it back.

Yushin: We understand that we need this competition to modernize ourselves, to become more and more efficient -- but this really is the worst possible time for opening the gates so widely.

Open they will, though, and its not just U.S. food producers who are looking to profit.

Art Franczek is president of the American Institute of Business and Economics in Moscow.

Art Franczek: Hi-tech goods are going to have a zero tariff, so the hi-tech companies are going to have a big opportunity in this country.

Russia hopes abolishing tariffs on hi-tech goods will help it to modernize -- after all Russians want cheaper smartphones and tablets as much as anyone else.

In Moscow, I'm Peter van Dyk for Marketplace.

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