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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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