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US Senators Back Georgia In Russia WTO Talks

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

24 October 2011

In a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, two US Senators have urged the Obama Administration to fully consider the sovereignty of Georgia before endorsing Russia's pending accession to the World Trade Organisation.

With Russian membership of the trade bloc set to be discussed at a WTO plenary in December, Senators Roy Blunt (R - Missouri) and James Inhofe (R - Oklahoma) have urged policymakers to respect the reservations Georgia has presented in stating that it would veto Russia's accession bid in December if a compromise isn't met on outstanding issues.

Georgia recently abandoned discussions with Russia - which were set to resume on October 20 - stating that no headway was being made on issues relating to trade with the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With significant support for the conclusion of Russia's 18-year WTO bid, it has been noted that WTO members could take the unprecedented step of pushing through Russia's accession without the approval of Georgia.

The senators urge in their letter that the United States should back its ally Georgia if the country seeks to defer Russia's accession into 2012 to achieve a compromise.

The two senators wrote:

“We are concerned about reports that the United States may endorse Russian membership in the World Trade Organization in spite of larger strategic challenges in the US-Russia relationship. As you are well aware, the United States continues to oppose the presence of Russian troops in the Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were invaded by Russia in August 2008.”

“We believe that US trade policy is as important today as it has ever been. We are not going to create jobs or grow out of our current economic problems without robust international trade and investment but our trade policies must always respect broad national strategic considerations.”

“Our support for Russian PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) will be contingent on our belief that a compromise between Russia and Georgia has been reached that does not disrespect Georgia’s security considerations and future sovereignty."

TAGS: Russia | tax | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade disputes | Georgia | United States | trade

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