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Russia Completes WTO Marathon
August 23, 2012 01:45

On Wednesday, Russia officially became the 156th member of the WTO after 18 years of tug-of-war negotiations, offering domestic producers a chance and a challenge.

Ever since the accession process was launched in 1993, the world’s Top 10 economy with its $2 trillion economy was facing numerous hurdles on its way to the free trade club. But now that Russia finally has an occasion to celebrate, there are experts inside the country who doubt whether it all was really worth it.

The move gives Russia a hope to improve its position in the World Bank’s Doing Business index, where it currently stands embarrassingly low at 120th place.

Analysts agree that membership in major international institutions could be a boost for the national economy, prompting government regulators to cut down on red tape and introducing fairer and more transparent rules for all producers. It could help major metals and chemical suppliers enter new foreign markets and give ordinary Russians better products at more appealing prices due to lower import customs tariffs.

There’ve been many concerns, too. In particular, Russia’s agriculture sector could be one of the hardest hit because many industries and enterprises are heavily subsidised. The government hopes that the provisions of the treaty now ratified by the Parliament and signed by the president will give the sector enough time for adjustment.

Carmakers were very critical, too. But the authorities came up with a recycling levy to be imposed on both foreign and domestic companies to balance out the decrease of the import fees.

Russia’s WTO negotiations team, headed by Maksim Medvedkov, is now keen to expand its office in Geneva to be able to actively promote Russia’s interests in the organization. Its first priority, however, would to lobby for Kazakhstan’s and Belarus’s accession.

If you need more information on the potential and challenges of specific Russian industries and enterprises opening up after WTO accession, feel free to contact Russia-IC. Some of the analysis is available here, here and here.

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: Russia WTO World Bank Doing Business  

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