News / Economy

Russia Trade Policy Under Fire at WTO

FILE - The entrance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
FILE - The entrance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
Reuters
The European Union accused Russia at the World Trade Organization on Monday of failing to do anything to reduce trade friction while the United States said Moscow was implementing more trade restrictions.

Although Russia and the European Union have both launched two trade disputes at each other in the past year - including one apiece last month - the European Union says Russia's illegal trade restrictions go beyond the ones already taken to the WTO.

"There's a real concern about a lot of issues," EU Ambassador to the WTO Angelos Pangratis told reporters after a meeting of the WTO's General Council, where he listed the EU's concerns and said Russia had failed to resolve a single one.

"This is a situation where we see an important [WTO] member not having the overall attitude that is expected."

At the meeting, U.S. Ambassador Michael Punke reeled off a shopping list of areas where Russia had failed to stick to WTO rules or failed to communicate its policies since it joined the global trading club in 2012, according to a transcript.

Russia in turn has already criticised the United States at the WTO for imposing economic sanctions on Russian individuals and companies, following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea peninsula, saying they are a breach of WTO rules.

Punke said the United States was very concerned by "a general rejection by Russia of one of the underlying goals of the WTO - the reduction of barriers to global trade, acutely demonstrated by recent trade actions aimed at Members particularly reliant on trade with Russia."

He mentioned Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Moldova as victims of Russian trade restrictions, as well as U.S. exports, and said Russia had tried "to at best obfuscate and at worse increase" various import tariffs.

"More broadly, we note that Russia is moving increasingly to build walls around its economy, whether through implementing trade restricting measures such as those already mentioned or by adopting import substitution and local content rules that have the same trade restrictive result," Punke said.

Pangratis told reporters that Russia's trade policies were "not convincing". Most of the WTO agreed, he said.

"The vast majority are on our side, no doubt. There are around a dozen who spoke which is already a big number for this kind of meeting and shows the pressure and intensity of the way people feel."

But he said Russian negotiator Maxim Medvedkov, who defended Russia's interests at the meeting, had made "an effort to reply with some detail."

The EU on Monday widened its sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow's annexation of Crimea while the United States has recently threatened to impose further sanctions against Russia.

Punke told reporters that U.S. sanctions on Russia were legal.

"We made our statement in there and we indicated that we take our WTO obligations very seriously, we indicated that we carefully considered our obligations in establishing the measures that were discussed, and that we're extremely confident
that the actions that we've taken are WTO consistent," he said.

He declined to say if Washington could invoke national security as a reason to restrict trade with Russia, which is allowed under a part of the WTO rules known as Article 21.

But Medvedkov said the national security argument would not be justified for at least some of the sanctions against Russia.

"Those measures that they have in place are punishing for example one company in Russia that is producing soft drinks, just because the people in Washington don't like the owner of the company," he said. "If it's [ustifiable under] Article 21 I would be very much surprised."

Among the countries who spoke in favor of the European Union and the United States were Switzerland, South Korea, Norway, Japan, Ukraine, Canada and Australia, according to an official present at the meeting.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8845
JPY
USD
117.71
GBP
USD
0.6643
CAD
USD
1.2669
INR
USD
62.019

Rates may not be current.