After 18 years of negotiations, the World Trade Organization is expected to approve Russia's bid for entry, during its Dec. 15-17 conference.

Pascal Lamy, the WTO's director-general, indicated that Russia's membership would bring it more firmly into the global economy and make it a more attractive place to do business.

The former Soviet republic of Georgia had posed the only obstacle to Russia's membership, following disagreements over controlling trade between Russia and the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

But the Georgians have been under pressure from the U.S. and the European Union to allow Russia to join; under WTO rules any existing member can block a new member by vetoing its application.

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes Russia's membership will generate greater export opportunities for American manufacturers, farmers and service providers, as well as sparking employment growth for his country.

There will be long-term benefits for foreign investors in Russia. In addition, in the present situation, Russian companies find it difficult to invest in Europe and America because of protectionist hurdles. This could change following the country's entrance to the WTO.

Indeed, failure to be accepted, after nearly two decades of negotiations, would have led to further isolation from the world markets. In addition, with membership privileges, Russia should be in a better position to implement various policies to modernize the country's economy and infrastructure, including the energy sector.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, is believed to deserve a lot of credit for his efforts to implement new foreign policies, which, in turn, have worked towards this membership.

Going forward, Russia will have to undergo certain reforms, which will include a cap on tariffs and a provision allowing foreign banks to establish subsidiaries in Russia. In addition, the accession will introduce an independent framework of rules, regulations and dispute resolution schemes.