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Georgia’s MFA releases statement on Russia’s accession to the WTO

Friday, November 11
On 9 November 2011, in Geneva, Switzerland, the Government of Georgia and the Government of the Russian Federation, signed a package of documents in the framework of negotiations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), mediated by the Swiss Confederation.

First, the Government of Georgia and the Government of the Russian Federation signed a bilateral agreement on the basic principles for a Mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of trade in goods.

Second, as foreseen in the agreement, relevant Memoranda of Understanding were signed to affirm the role of the Government of the Swiss Confederation as the neutral third Party, who among other responsibilities, selects and mandates international monitors and to whom the monitors will be accountable.

Third, all three parties, Georgia, Russia and Switzerland, exchanged documents to define the terms of reference for an internationally established neutral private company, which will be accountable to and mandated by the Government of Switzerland in the conduct of monitoring. The Terms of Reference provides for the conditions of a permissive environment for international monitoring. The terms of reference, inter alia, establishes that no monitor can be a citizen of Russia or Georgia and provides for the freedom of movement of the monitors in the implementation of their mandate.

With this package of documents, Georgia and Russia have agreed to establish a mechanism of customs administration and monitoring of trade in goods consisting of an International Monitoring System (IMS) and an Electronic Data Exchange System (EDES). The IMS provides for the physical presence of international monitors during checking of documentation and records at all customs procedures, during physical examination of goods and checking of suspicious cargo. The monitors will also oversee that electronic seals and GPS/GPRS tracking systems are placed on all trade cargo. The EDES provides a common electronic data exchange platform, giving access to information on all customs and trade transactions to international monitors and allowing them through advanced cargo information to conduct risk management and auditing.

This agreement is an important achievement for Georgia as it enables for the international monitoring of trade between Russia and the whole territory of Georgia, including Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskinvali region/South Ossetia, Georgia. The agreement reflects all elements of monitoring that Georgia has demanded since the onset of the negotiations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is pleased that after a period of hesitation and reflection, the Russian Federation agreed to the proposal of the Swiss Confederation, in the form it was accepted by Georgia on 27 October 2011.

With the successful completion of the negotiations, the focus now turns to the effective implementation of the agreement. The Government of Georgia expresses its sincere gratitude to the Government of the Swiss Confederation for their tireless efforts in negotiating the agreement and for their commitment to the implementation of the reached agreement as emphasized by their willingness to act as the neutral third Party.

Georgia expresses its hope that the signature of this agreement will open opportunities for Russia to approach other difficulties in our bilateral relations based on principles of international law and to engage in negotiations allowing the generation of mutually beneficial solutions.