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

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs