News / Europe

Russia Continues Drive for Membership in WTO

The United States strongly supports Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization, or WTO, international agency overseeing the rules of international trade.  It was founded in 1995, replacing an organization known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

"The World Trade Organization is a set of agreements governing nearly all aspects of international trade in goods and services and also extending to the treatment of intellectual property and enforcement of intellectual property rights.  In addition, it is an organization located in Geneva that enforces or helps enforce and oversee the workings of these agreements.  It comprises now 153 different nation states.  The largest economies that are outside the WTO are Russia and Iran," said David Christy, a trade expert with the law firm of DLA Piper here in Washington.

Anders Aslund, a Russia and trade expert with the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, says the criteria for joining the WTO are extensive. "The WTO is a club and first you have to accept all the rules.  Then you have to settle with each member who so desires bilateral market access protocols.  That's a lot of negotiation.  And the other countries, they look at what rules in your country are not good enough for the WTO, so that they have to change.  Russia has changed at least 100 laws or adopted new customs codes, etc. in order to become eligible for membership in the WTO," he said.

Russia officially began its WTO membership bid in 1993.  Aslund says Russia's negotiating history has been uneven. "Until 2000, Russia didn't take its application very seriously; it didn't work hard on it.  You can say that Russia worked hard on it the years 2000 to 20003.  And during his second term, President Vladimir Putin sort of lost interest in the WTO and didn't do very much to push it," he said.

Experts say Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has been pushing very hard for WTO membership and has moved his country closer to that goal.  

Robert Legvold of Columbia University in New York says Mr. Medvedev did not get much help from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. "We had this complication that began last summer when we thought we were very close to having done the deal; most of Medvedev's people were talking about it being almost a done deal.  And then suddenly, in the early part of June 2009, Prime Minister Putin said, 'We are not coming in except as part of a customs union among Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.'  And that threw a complete monkey wrench into things and delayed it another eight or nine months until January or February of this year, when that roadblock seemed to be removed," he said.

Many experts say Russia has never been closer to becoming a member of the World Trade Organization.  But some outstanding issues include limits on agricultural subsidies, encryption of smart phones and intellectual property rights, focusing on curbing illicit trade and counterfeiting in goods.

During last month's Washington summit, President Barack Obama told President Medvedev that the United States is firmly behind Russia's WTO bid. "I emphasized to President Medvedev, I emphasized to his entire delegation, and now I want to emphasize to the Russian people, we think it is not only in the interests of the Russian Federation, but [also] in the interests of the United States and in the interest of the world that Russia joins the WTO.  So this is something that we want to get resolved," he said.

President Medvedev said only minor technical problems remain and he expressed the hope that they will be resolved by the end of September.  But some experts say that timeframe might just be too optimistic.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs