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Duma Committee calls for approving law on ratification of WTO protocol

July 05, 2012, 1:26 UTC+3
At present, a total of 155 states are members of the WTO
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MOSCOW, July 5 (Itar-Tass) — The State Duma Committee for Economic Policy, Innovation Development and Entrepreneurship has recommended the lower house of parliament to approve a law on the ratification of the protocol on Russia’s joining the Marrakesh Agreement on founding the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The plenary session is scheduled for July 10.

“The accession to the WTO is indispensable,” chairman of the State Duma Committee Igor Rudensky said. “We discussed this issue and decided that the accession to the WTO was indispensable. There are certain risks, of course, and we should do our best to minimize them,” he said.

At present, a total of 155 states are members of the WTO. “This is 97 percent of global trade turnover. In order to realize our wishes and intentions – to increase productivity of labour, create 25 million jobs and take 100 steps forward to improve the investment climate – it is necessary to join the WTO.” According to Rudensky, the competition will be rather severe and “this will give an opportunity to improve the situation at many enterprises and get necessary knowledge in order to work effectively in the future”.

Russia entered negotiations on joining the WTO back in 1995. Up to 1998 the talks were focused on the Russian foreign trade regimen. Russia provided documents describing the regimen in areas covered by WTO agreements, and the process of questions and answers regarding the Russian mechanism of foreign trade and economy regulation. In all, Russia answered more than 3,000 questions and presented hundreds of legislative and regulatory acts.

Russia is to be through with the ratification of the package of agreements on joining the WTO by July 23. Otherwise it will have to resume accession talks anew. In that case the conditions may get worse. By that time the instrument of ratification is to be approved by the government and parliament and signed into law by the president.

The protocol on Russia’s accession to the WTO was signed on December 16 last year within the framework of the ministerial conference of that international organization. Alongside this an accompanying package of documents, including liabilities regarding access to the market of goods and services was approved. Russia was officially admitted to the World Trade Organization. It had sought WTO membership since 1993. Thirty days after the ratification of the documents Russia will become a full-fledged WTO member.

“It is necessary to concentrate efforts by all branches of power and business in order to minimize losses of the Russian economy. The State Duma, the government, business and all interested parties closely cooperated to work out instruments to support branches and comply with the rules of international trade. They made up a list of measures to adapt the economy to membership to the WTO,” the Duma lawmaker stressed.

On June 20, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation /KPRF/ and A Just Russia sent an inquiry to the Constitutional Court regarding the constitutionality of the country's joining the World Trade Organization.

The document was signed by more than 130 deputies of two factions, whereas 90 signatures are enough for the Constitutional Court's taking the case for review.

In lawmakers' opinion, joining the WTO will lead to job cuts, and social tensions. Also, the parliamentarians believe that it will lose Russia its economic sovereignty.

The parliamentarians also have questions of "technical nature" regarding the procedure to discuss the document and its upcoming ratification. Specifically, they note the fact that the protocol has not been translated into Russian, which means that the conditions under which Russia’s is joining the TWO are unknown. At the same time, an official translation of the document has been circulated at the Duma.

"We've set the task of making this inquiry and we've accomplished it," deputy head of the KPRF faction Nikolai Kolomeitsev told Itar-Tass.

"Hopefully, the court, in accordance with the Russian Constitution, will consider our inquiry. We've designated our position and cited our reasons on 18 pages," Kolomeitsev said.

Among those who put their signatures under the inquiry are KPRF faction leader Gennady Zyuganov and A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov.

The lawmakers will be represented at the Constitutional Court by Alexander Chuyev, 4th State Duma lawmaker, and lawyer Alexander Muranov.

On July 3, the Russian Constitutional Court began the hearings in the constitutionality case of the Protocol on Russia’s accession in the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its open meeting on Tuesday. For the first time, the Constitutional Court will try a case on the compliance of an international treaty not brought into effect with the fundamental law.

In compliance with international obligations assumed by Russia the document on Russia’s accession to the WTO should be ratified till July 23. Otherwise the talks have to restart.


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