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Russia Seeks Nine Billion Dollars WTO Farm Subsidies

Russia expects WTO membership to further promote its market reforms and ensure better transparency, as well as to provide a secure business environment for trade and investment. Membership will also help Russia diversify its economy, participate in projects to develop future common trade rules and secure its interests.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jul 13, 2007
Russia insists on $9 billion-a-year state agriculture subsidies at accession talks with the World Trade Organization (WTO), in accordance with the organization's rules, the agriculture minister said Thursday. "The figure of $9.2 billion is a guideline in the negotiating process," Alexei Gordeyev told a Cabinet meeting.

Russia is discussing state support for the agricultural sector at multilateral WTO accession talks, with the next round due July 23-27 in Geneva.

State agricultural subsidies in Russia are currently around $2 billion a year.

"Should this figure [$9.2 billion] be agreed upon, Russia will have substantial capacity to increase state support for agriculture," Gordeyev said, adding that would involve direct support, or so-called "yellow basket" subsidies.

The Russian WTO Accession project has been in progress since September 2005 and is expected to continue until the end of 2007, when Russia could finally join the organization.

Maxim Medvedkov, director for trade talks at the Economic Development and Trade Ministry and head of the Russian delegation, said last month that Russia, the largest economy outside the international trade alliance, expected to complete bilateral WTO negotiations with Guatemala, Vietnam, and Cambodia this summer.

Russia expects WTO membership to further promote its market reforms and ensure better transparency, as well as to provide a secure business environment for trade and investment. Membership will also help Russia diversify its economy, participate in projects to develop future common trade rules and secure its interests.

Other countries, including the European Union, believe Russian participation in international organizations, and in particular the WTO, will lead to a greater commitment by its political leaders to the international community and increased support for closer cooperation.

The West also expects limitations on the role of government in the domestic economy, which will improve competition and further liberalize the Russian economy.

related report

Russian farm produce to grow 23% in five years
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Jul 13 - Russia's premier said domestic farm production will increase 23% by 2012 under the government's five-year agricultural program, with agricultural development being one of the national welfare projects.

"The five-year program provides for a 23% increase in agricultural production by 2012, which is a substantial rise," Mikhail Fradkov told the government

Annual budget support for farming is to be gradually increased from 60 billion rubles this year to 130 billion in 2012, which is expected to secure agricultural growth of 4% a year against the current 2.8%, a government source said. "The total funding for five years will be 551.3 billion rubles [$22 billion]," the source said.

The Agriculture Ministry said it wanted to increase domestic meat and dairy consumption to 70% of the total amount consumed, a government source said.

"It meets the interests of national product security," the source said, adding that no additional quotas on agricultural imports were expected. "If there are not enough domestic products, then the products should be imported," he said.

The program sets a target for growth in livestock farming of 5% a year against 3% today. Domestic meat products should take up 76.9% of the market by 2012 against the current 57.7% in 2006, and dairy products 81.1% against 77.8%, the source said.

In 2005, Russia introduced a ban on Polish meat, citing health risks. In late May, Russia's food safety watchdog imposed temporary restrictions on meat imports from some European Union producers, including Belgium and Germany, for the same reasons. On June 26, the regulator temporarily restricted poultry imports from the Czech Republic after a bird flu outbreak was registered in the country. In December 2006, Russia banned all rice imports, again citing health concerns.

Source: RIA Novosti

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