Moscow - The Russian upper house of parliament on Wednesday passed the bill ratifying Russia's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the final legislative step required before President Vladimir Putin signs it into law.
The Federation Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining the world trade body, bringing Russia to the verge of finally joining the organisation after 18 years of often bitter negotiations.
The upper house approved the bill with 144 votes in favour and three votes against and no abstentions, following its passing by the State Duma lower house last week. The accession will become Russian law 30 days after Putin signs the measure.
Economists have long argued that Russia needed to join the WTO as it was the only major global economy outside the body - following China's membership in 2001 - and the government hopes accession will stimulate growth.
But the membership has also been controversial, with some-medium sized firms expressing concern that they will be put out of business by being unable to compete against imports made cheaper by a reduction in customs tariffs.
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