GENEVA — After 18 years of negotiations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed to allow Russia to become its newest member on Dec. 16, The Associated Press reported. Russia’s accession represents the most significant addition to the WTO since China joined approximately 10 years ago, according to the US Meat Export Federation.

Regarding US pork and beef, Russia is a significant growth market. US pork exports (including variety meat) to Russia through September were up 22 percent in value to more than $183 million, making it this year’s sixth-largest value market for US pork. Beef exports were up 67 percent in export value to nearly $196 million, giving Russia the fifth ranking in terms of export value.

The US meat and poultry industry is hopeful this move will further enhance trade between the two countries. But despite WTO membership, US pork and beef exports will still face significant obstacles in the Russian market, including a quota system that regulates imports through the imposition of steep tariffs beyond a designated volume, said Thad Lively, USMEF senior vice president, in November.

WTO membership, however, should force Russia to be more consistent and transparent in how it trades with the US, and the WTO provides an important venue for addressing trade disputes, he added.

Next year, Russia would officially become a WTO member, 30 days after it notifies the WTO that the Russian Duma has ratified membership.