Today in Russian Business – Oct 20, 2011

‘[W]e can live without it’: President Medvedev expresses a certain ambivalence about the prospect of long-negotiated WTO membership.  In a video interview on Bloomberg, chief strategist at Troika Dialog Chris Weafer suggests that accession to the free trade block would create an additional source of reassurance for foreign investors who, he argues, are greatly needed to bolster Russia’s economy in the long-term.  In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Senators Roy Blunt and James Inhofe have pledged their support for a Georgian veto on Russia’s WTO entry, which remains one of the largest obstacles to Moscow joining.  Brewer SABMiller has announced that it will transfer Eastern European beer businesses worth $1.9 billion to Istanbul-based Anadolu Efes Biracilik & Malt Sanayii and take a stake in the enlarged company, thus creating Russia’s second-biggest beer maker.  Spurring hopes that consumer demand may bolster the flagging economy, retail sales in Russia have apparently jumped the most since October 2008 last month to 9.2%, as unemployment fell to a more than three-year low.