WASHINGTON – Maxim Medvedkov, Russia’s chief trade negotiator, told reporters in Moscow last week that one of Russia’s most difficult hurdles to joining the 153-member World Trade Organization (WTO) is the arrangement for managing the country’s imports of poultry and meat, Bloomberg reports.

However, Medvedkov is confident that after almost two decades of trying, Russia will conclude WTO accession negotiations this year, states the Jan. 21 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington News.

Russia, taking a step to demonstrate it is willing to meet WTO rules, agreed to cut in half its subsidies for animal agriculture and crop farmers over this decade. Government subsidies are planned to reach $9 billion next year, but will be reduced to $4.5 billion annually by 2017 or 2019 at the latest, Medvedkov said.

Russian accession negotiations will resume the week of Jan. 24 in Geneva and also when the economic ministries from a large number of countries convene at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.