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

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid