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Russia accession to WTO triple victory for Moscow, world-view

January 20, 2012, 19:20 UTC+3

Some estimates suggest Russian membership will help to boost its economy by tens of billions of dollars each year

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WASHINGTON, January 20 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Accession to the WTO has become a “triple victory” for Moscow, for the international trading system based on respect for common rules, and for the global economy, Director of WTO Accession Division Nigerian Chiedu Osakwe said at a seminar at the Washington International Trade Association on Thursday.

After an 18-year negotiation marathon Russia in December 2011 received an invitation to join the WTO. Osakwe stressed in his speech that this decision was made by consensus, which in itself was a politically important signal. He recalled that in 2010 the Russian economy was the 11th largest in the world, currently it is the 9th, and by 2020, according to forecasts, it should become the 4th.

Some estimates suggest Russian membership will help to boost its economy by tens of billions of dollars each year. Russia is Europe’s third largest export market, while Russia’s own exports have been dominated by oil and gas.

Now Washington should give Moscow the permanent normal trade partner status and repeal the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment against it that once linked trade issue with the freedom of emigration from the USSR, so that Russia could benefit from WTO membership.

The 153-member WTO provides a forum for international trade liberalisation agreements, which it polices - deciding when rules have been breached and when retaliatory trade sanctions can be imposed. The removal of trade barriers is likely to stimulate greater and more diversified trade between Russia and the rest of the world

Osakwe was asked about his attitude to possible attempts to link the decision on the Jackson-Vanik amendment with the new political and economic demands to Russia. However, he refused to give advice by default to members of the US Congress, expressing confidence that they will manage well without it. However, experienced observers do not rule out that in the conditions of the US election campaign the issue may really be politicized, and its settlement may be delayed.

The WTO representative stressed that the positive outcome of the negotiation process with Russia is the result and evidence of Moscow’s “unquestionable commitment” to participating in the organization’s work. According to him, the unprecedented in volume Russia’s final report has 604 pages and consists of 1,451 articles, 163 of which contain “obligations that are legally binding and backed by enforcement mechanisms.”

However, these conditions are yet to be ratified by the Russian State Duma lower house of parliament. Osakwe gave no direct answer to the question of whether he expects any complications in the process, but he pledged that on its completion WTO Director General Pascal Lamy “will stand at the open doors in anticipation of ratification instrument.” In other countries, according to the expert, no ratification is required any more.


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