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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid