Putin signs protocol for Russia to join WTO

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the protocol for the country to join the World Trade Organization, capping an accession process that took 18 years.

The signing announced Saturday by the Kremlin comes a week after parliament ratified the agreement.

Russia had been the largest economy outside the global trade organization.

Advocates say that joining the WTO will improve foreign investment and push Russian businesses.

But thousands of Russian businesses are wary that the low import duties and caps on subsidies that are a condition of joining the WTO will hurt them.

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