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.
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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.