Today Ukraine will be approved as a new member of the World Trade Organisation, the reward both for reforming its economy and for tilting towards the West rather than Russia, The Times reported.

The agreements to make it the WTO's 152nd member will not be signed until summer, but even so, it looks as though Ukraine has beaten Russia to the prize. The only countries bigger than Ukraine still outside the club are Russia and Iran, while the list of smaller ones consists of Libya, Kazakhstan and others of uncertain commitment to a market economy.

Today's ceremony, at the WTO's two-day general council in Geneva, shows that the trade organisation still has pulling power as a club that countries want to join — even though most of the world belongs. It can still persuade them to reform in order to join — in contrast, perhaps, to the European Union.
The greatest attraction to members is the leverage it gives them in settling trade disputes. President Yushchenko said that membership would give his country a stronger hand in negotiating with Russia over restrictions imposed on Ukrainian exports worth up to $3 billion.

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