Russia’s WTO membership on track

GENEVA — The head of the World Trade Organization has expressed confidence that Russia’s 18-year effort to join the global commerce body will succeed by the end of the year.

GENEVA — The head of the World Trade Organization has expressed confidence that Russia’s 18-year effort to join the global commerce body will succeed by the end of the year.

WTO chief Pascal Lamy told France-Inter radio on Wednesday that negotiators are “very close to the goal.”

Hopes for a deal were raised after Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey travelled to Russia and Georgia recently to mediate a customs dispute resulting from the two nations’ brief war in 2008.

Georgia said last week that it has accepted a Swiss proposal for third-party customs checks on all trade and cargo between Russia and the breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

If Russia accepts too, WTO members could approve Moscow’s accession as early as next month