After nearly two decades of accession process, Russia on Wednesday became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Negotiations for Russia's accession to the WTO started on June 16, 1993.
Russia's accession cleared a major hurdle on November 10, 2011 when the WTO Working Party on its accession unanimously approved the package spelling out Russia's terms of entry to the organization.
Working Group included representatives of countries which had unresolved issues in trade with Russia, and talks to this effect with Georgia, the European Union, and the United States were complex.
Protocol on Russia's accession to the Marrakesh Agreement, the foundation document for WTO, was approved by the entire membership of the global trade body on December 16 last year.
On July 21, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a Parliamentary legislation bringing Russia's trading laws into compliance with the international standards set under the WTO.
The way for the country to become the organization's 156th member cleared on August 22, thirty days after the Russian government officially notified the WTO Secretariat that the ratification process was completed.
WTO norms may not be applied in trade with the United States until the Jackon-Vanik Amendment is abrogated, Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported.
Russian economic community supports the WTO accession, although the idea also had quite a number of zealous opponents. Critics say that Russia's WTO entry is detrimental to the country's national sovereignty and security and could ruin entire sectors of the domestic economy.
Russian Economic Development Ministry analysts point out that the country's WTO entry signifies the stability of conditions for operation on external markets, the lowering of barriers in trade, as well as the possibility of Russia's participation in forming rules for international economic cooperation. The membership will lower prices for both imported and domestic goods, they expect.
Active work will be launched this autumn towards lifting the existing restrictions on Russia's export. In all, 19 countries - Australia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, China, South Korea, Mexico, Moldova, the United States, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine -- as well as the European Union as a common customs territory apply protective measures with regard to Russian commodities.
In 2011, Russia was the world's ninth largest exporter, shipping $522 billion in goods and $54 billion in services to its trading partners. In the same period, Russians imported $323 billion in goods and $90 billion in services.
Having Russia in the WTO would open up opportunities in the Russian market for foreign investors and exporters alike. Russia's import tariffs would come down and there would be a limit on export duty levels for a list of essential raw materials.
by RTT Staff Writer
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