In 2006, Russia had crossed an important barrier in its route to accessing the membership of World Trade Organization (WTO), with the signing of the bilateral agreement with US, though the process for a full membership would take longer to be completely realised…
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In 2006, Russia had crossed an important barrier in its route to accessing the membership of World Trade Organization (WTO), with the signing of the bilateral agreement with US, though the process for a full membership would take longer to be completely realised. Russia's gradual progress in the negotiations for acquiring the WTO membership, is a positive signal for the international community, as it reflects Russia’s willingness to have an open trade relations within the global commerce. In the negotiation rounds, Russia had agreed to decrease its import tariff on the industrial and agricultural products by 3 % points, in slow progression. It had also agreed to free the domestic service sector, with a certain amount of restriction. There is a general belief that WTO accession will bring about a positive influence on the economic development of Russia by improving economic efficiency, increasing market competition, and by increasing the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Russia. However, on the other hand with the opening up of the Russian markets there are some fears on the survival of the domestic firms under increasing competition from the foreign corporations. The chief objective of this paper is to understand and analyse implications that Russia may have to contend with WTO accession.
Based on a secondary and qualitative form of research that involves literature review and analysis of Russia’s economy, all implications of WTO accession will be discussed to support the conclusion that WTO membership may be beneficial for Russia in the end. 1 Introduction “Russia risks taking a back seat to new post-crisis rules of world trade if it doesn’t join the WTO.”1 1.1 Background history In 1993, Russia officially applied to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariff (GATT) for accession, and in 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the organization that succeeded GATT, took up its application. However, during the initial years a complete lack of political will and a general initiative by the Russian government, which was new and yet to create any structural framework to regulate the socio-economic and political environment, soon made the Russian impetus to join the WTO, lose its steam.2 After the 1998 economic crisis, as the Russian rouble devalued, with a subsequent failure to repay the nation’s debt, the government became more involved in trying to revive the economy, with very little focus on the subject of WTO accession and the necessary negotiations. Fresh impetus to the issue was derived when the Vladimir Putin after being elected as the President of Russia in 2000, declared WTO accession as one of his prime goals, during his tenure at office. Under his interest and will, fresh rounds of negotiations and discussions were initiated. The Russian President’s declaration created a political commitment of sorts that allowed Russia to take initiative and search for meaningful resolutions, on various contentious issues related to its WTO accession. In May 2001, Russia created a ‘Review of the Russian Trade Policies,’ a report that was seen as the Protocol for the Russian accession to WTO. By early 2002, the WTO’s Working Party on Russia’s accession reviewed the first draft of the report. 3 At this time, this signified that Russia had almost entered the last phase of the accession process, where it was negotiating the terms and conditions pertaining to its entry into the WTO, and contemplating the implementation of the necessary legislative reforms. However, soon there were
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