News / Europe

    Will Member Advantages Outweigh Hurdles in Russia's WTO Bid?

    Russia has been trying to join the World Trade Organization since 1993; To become a member, a country has to accept whole series of agreements

    Russia has been trying to join the World Trade Organization since 1993. Moscow faces hurdles in its bid, but the country will have advantages once it joins the international organization.

    The Geneva-based, 153-member World Trade Organization - or WTO -  is the agency overseeing the rules of international trade.  It was founded in 1995, replacing an organization known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - or GATT.

    Experts say to become a WTO member, a country has to accept a whole series of agreements.  They include a ceiling on tariff levels governments can impose on various imported goods and the protection of intellectual property.  In addition to accepting all the WTO rules, a country then has to settle bilateral trade agreements with all the countries that so desire.  

    David Christy, trade expert with the law firm of DLA Piper, says that is why the negotiating process - as is the case with Russia - is lengthy.

    "It is an immensely complex process.  This is not the same as an invitation to join the G6, G7, G8 or G20," he said. "This is a process wherein, for many of the nations that end up joining, they have to domestically, basically, withdraw and then develop and pass completely new legal regimes in all of the areas affected by the WTO, to bring their laws and regulations into compliance with the various WTO obligations.  Russia has been doing this."

    Anders Aslund, with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says in addition to providing the legal framework for the conduct of almost all world trade, the WTO has an effective mechanism to deal with disputes.

    "If you violate your commitments to the WTO, then another country can take you to an arbitration court in the WTO and you can be forced to pay big penalties or you can be forced to accept protectionist measures by another country," he said.

    Aslund says Russia's WTO bid comes at a time when the country's economy is faltering .

    "The realization now is that Russia did live a lot on oil, more than the leadership realized," he said.  "And that the economy is not at all as vibrant and strong as they thought.  It was a big shock that Russia's GDP fell by eight percent last year, more than any other G20 economy.  And there is also a sense that growth rates in the future will be low."

    Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has made modernizing his country's economy a top priority of his administration.

    Robert Legvold of Columbia University says WTO membership will help that goal by - among other things - opening up markets worldwide.

    "But I think the real advantage - and it explains part of the domestic opposition on the Russian side - is that it will create a competitive environment that will be good for Russia in its efforts to modernize its economy," he said. "But that also explains some of the domestic opposition because those sectors that are going to be harmed by the competition - parts of agriculture, part of the chemical industry and so on - have fought it [WTO accession] all along the line, precisely for that reason.  So I think the country and the economy as a whole will benefit from that exposure."

    David Christy agrees.

    "The main thing from my perspective as a professional in the area is that the WTO will provide a framework for it [Russia] to diversify its economy beyond energy," he said.  "In addition, I'm a big supporter of transparency and predictability - and compliance with the WTO agreements will assist in that area.  The key here is going to be should Russia get in or when it gets in - because I think it's a question of when, not should - then will it respect the obligations to which it agreed: how will it conduct itself as a member of the WTO?"

    During a recent Washington summit meeting with President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev expressed hope that outstanding issues pertaining to Moscow's WTO bid would be solved by the end of September.  But some experts believe it may take longer.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora