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Russian market to open to U.S. insurers


HANOI, Vietnam--The United States and Russia have signed a bilateral trade agreement that will open the Russian market to U.S. insurers.

The agreement, which will ease Russia's efforts to enter the World Trade Organization, was signed Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the Pacific Rim nations met for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last week.

Among other things, the wide-ranging agreement will allow branching by U.S. insurers in Russia rather than requiring them to set up a Russian company; allow U.S. insurers to underwrite certain large lines of nonlife insurance that Russians initially had resisted; and ease a Russian cap on overall foreign participation in the Russian market.

Insurance is only one of a broad range of economic sectors affected by the bilateral agreement. Others include business services, banking and securities, manufactured goods and agricultural products.

Russia also agreed to fight against piracy and counterfeiting and otherwise to improve protection of intellectual property rights.