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US trade agreement brings Russia closer to WTO membership

[JURIST] The United States and Russia signed a landmark trade agreement [press release] Sunday bringing Russia one step closer in its 13-year drive for membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website; JURIST news archive]. Under the agreement, Russia [JURIST news archive] will lower import tariffs on American goods while the US pledged to improve its trade relations with Russian companies. The agreement signals an improvement in the recently rocky relations between the US and Russia but the countries still have a way to go before normal trade relations [Moscow Times report] are established between Washington and Moscow.

Before the WTO will vote on Russia's membership, Russia must complete bilateral trade negotiations [Washington Post report] with Costa Rica, Moldavia, and Georgia. Russia is the largest economy currently outside of the 149 member WTO. Critics have suggested the US may be using the agreement to gain Russian support for a sanctions package against Iran for nuclear activity. AP has more.

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