Zoellick: The Minister and I had an excellent
meeting today. Both our Presidents
have placed a very high priority on trying to complete our bilateral work on
Russia’s WTO accession. And as part of that, President Bush
wrote a letter to President Putin suggesting that Minister Gref and I meet to
review where we stand on the full agenda, and indeed attached a list of specific
items that we believed needed resolution.
So the Minister and I and our teams met for about 8 hours today to review
every item on that list. In the
area of industrial goods, we made excellent progress, and I think there is only
a small number of items that we still need to resolve the tariffs that
Russia would have upon
In the area of services, our
colleagues came up with possible solutions in a number of areas. The Minister and I reviewed those and
were comfortable with those solutions.
And we will now return to consult with other ministers and our industry
to see if these compromises will enable us to close out a number of these
sectors since both our Finance Ministers will be meeting next weekend around a
G-8 meeting, we will also seek their help in narrowing the differences in the
In agriculture, we have only one
technical issue left to resolve in the bilateral meat agreement. And once that issue is solved, as we
believe it can be, that will open the way for us to work on the other
agricultural issues including the tariffs and working with
Russia and other parties on the
multilateral agricultural rules, such as subsidies. And we also agreed to activate a special
[bilateral] agricultural trade group that will have representatives of both
agricultural and trade ministries to try to solve problems such as sanitary and
phytosanitary issues. We also
reviewed a host of systemic issues – these relate to the overall WTO rules. And I think we have a very shared
outlook on how to solve these issues.
We both need to share information with one another about questions that
Russia and the
U.S. have. And the
U.S. agreed to work with
Russia and some other key countries in
the WTO to try to help move these issues forward in the WTO working party
chaired by Ambassador Johannesson of
We also reviewed the need to have
effective enforcement in the intellectual property rights area.
To keep progress
moving quickly, our teams will be meeting in
Geneva [on WTO] in mid-February to try
to follow up on some of these items. Of course our Presidents are scheduled to
see each other, I think on February 23.
And so we will both report to our Presidents. And we’ve agreed to try to set up
another Ministerial meeting in late March or early April to keep an intense
focus on this effort.
So in summary, I think we’ve been
able to accelerate work across all the areas. And I think both sides have a renewed
sense of energy. And I just want to
thank Minister Gref for his leadership because many of these items cut across
different ministries, so we’re relying on his help to coordinate these within
Russia. And I also want to thank both teams, who
met as recently as this week in Paris to try to narrow the gaps on
these issues. So, I come with a
sense of a good prospect that if we keep up this momentum, we should be able to
reach our bilateral agreement, so that’s the U.S.-Russian agreement on
accession, during the course of this year.
And we will work closely with our Russian partners to help work through
the multilateral aspects with all 148 economies in the WTO to expedite
Russia’s accession, in addition to our
Gref: [translation] Thanks a lot. [unintelligible] manage to come up with
a common language. And to a great
extent of that there is very little left to what my colleague has just
said. [unintelligible] right
now. There are great thanks to
Ambassador Zoellick and to Dorothy who flew over to this place without any
weekend, and to the whole of the great team on the American side. We have accomplished rather notable,
close and very friendly work which ended a lot for a good result, a good outcome
to be achieved, which made us optimistic, upbeat for work in the near
future. I believe that we have
every ample opportunity in order to fulfill the assignment as posed by the two
of the Presidents to substantially expedite our work, our progress, and to
secure the expedient Russian accession to the WTO. I believe we have every chance to do
that. For this meeting today we
will be pursuing a more vigorous effort.
Undoubtedly enough we will achieve that
Moderator: Any questions? Quickly.
Reporter: Mr. Zoellick, Mr. Gref, Daniel Pruzin,
Bureau of National Affairs. Do you
believe with the progress made at this meeting today that it will be possible to
conclude the bilateral agreement early enough to allow Russia to join the WTO at
the Hong Kong Ministerial meeting?
Zoellick: As I said, I believe we should be
able to, if we stay on track and we made good progress today and over the past
week or so, that we should be able to complete the bilateral accession during
the course of 2005. Second, I
discussed with Minister Gref ways that the
States could help with the multilateral
accession process. I can’t speak
for the other members and how quickly they will resolve their issues. So at this point, I think we want to try
to complete our bilateral accession by, as soon as possible in 2005, and
simultaneously work on the multilateral aspects.
Gref: [translation] A slight addition
on my part. Once we have the
negotiations with the United
States completed, in due time in that
case we will have a very good window of opportunity to have all the things done
by the end of December.
Moderator: Any other questions? Anyone?
Reporter: [translation]…managed to settle the
pricing issue, the gas pricing issue?
Gref: [translation] I can say we have
rather seriously progressed in terms of the understanding of the positions as
taken by both sides. We have in
detail discussed this issue. And we
came to understand the sensitivities our partners have. We have explained away our position, and
apparently we have sense a pattern which will allow for the solution to this
issue. And I guess after further
consultations and the exchanges of opinion, further we will be in a position to
come up with a final solution.
Zoellick: I would agree with that, but I
would just refine for a Russian audience that the
U.S. interest in this is probably
different than what you probably covered with Europe. As I discussed with the Minister, we are
focused on the narrower issue of energy as an input, particularly for
fertilizer. And the Minister
explained some of the broader energy pricing issues, which I was pleased to
learn about, but our focus is on solving this narrower issue. And as the Minister said, I think we
have a basis for doing that.
Reporter: Jacob Greenberg with Bloomberg
News. Did you get any agreement on
the access of financial services, insurance companies and particularly the issue
of opening of branches across Russia?
Zoellick: On financial services, we
identified the variables we needed to review for securities, banking and
insurance. And I think we’re closer
together on many of those variables.
But they are interconnected because depending on the results on one
variable, one can be a little bit more flexible on another. And this in an area where our finance
ministers also have an important interest.
So I think it’s probably best that we discuss with them before we report
to you. And we’ll rely on their
Gref: [translation] Well I’ll be late
for my plane.
Moderator: Thank you
Zoellick: And I really want to thank the Minister,
he’s done a great job with all of this.
[reporter question off tape
regarding the reference to the bilateral meat
Zoellick: No, we have an agreement related
to tariff rate quotas for pork, and beef, and poultry. And we had initialed it but hadn’t
signed it. There’s one small
technical issue left we have to resolve with that that our teams are working on
now. I don’t know if they’ll finish
today or in a couple of days or something.
But then that has to be, the language has to be checked in English and
Russian. But we’re hoping to try to
get this done before our President’s meet.
Reporter: Just a yes or no question – do you
expect any major breakthrough when the Presidents
Reporter: In the
Zoellick: I think the way that Presidents
get breakthroughs is they tell us to do the work and we report to them, in my