Ukraine may beat Russia to WTO: minister

09:44, 04 February 2008
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Ukraine`s candidacy is expected to be approved at a WTO meeting Feb 5

Ukraine may join the WTO on unfavorable terms just to beat Russia to it and gain advantage, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Saturday, adding that Russia would only take an offer that guarantees its economic stability, according to AFP.

"On the wave of its political relations with the West, Ukraine will most likely join (the WTO) on unfavorable terms just to join ahead of Russia and get some advantage, so I am afraid some Ukrainian industries will be in a unfavorable position," he told the First television channel.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told AFP that Ukraine`s expected membership of the World Trade Organisation will give the country leverage in trade disputes with neighbouring Russia.

The pro-Western leader said that membership of the WTO would allow Ukraine to negotiate with Russia over "restrictions" imposed on Ukrainian exports worth up to three billion US dollars (two billion euros).

Members of the 151-nation global trade body have the right to demand bilateral agreements with aspiring members that can be used to extract trade concessions.

Russia had planned to join the WTO this year but has continually set back its deadline for joining. Ukraine, which submitted its membership in 1993, is the biggest country besides Iran and Russia outside the WTO.

Ukraine`s candidacy is expected to be approved at a WTO meeting next week.

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