MOSCOW, August 22 (Itar-Tass) — Russia has officially joined the World Trade Organization on Wednesday to become the 156th member after quite a long accession process. The talks on entry into the Organization were held within the scope of the Working Group which included representatives of countries which had unresolved issues in trade with the Russian Federation (RF).
Talks to this effect with Georgia, the European Union, and the United States were the most complex. The RF accession bid was finally decided upon at the WTO ministerial conference in Geneva on December 16, 2011. Russia's accessoin to the WTO was approved unanimously.
As far as the US is concerned, WTO norms may not be applied in trade with that country until the Jackon-Vanik Amendment is abrogated. According to the understanings reached, trade in this case will be regulated by the current bilateral trade agreement.
Russia's accession to the WTO was on the whole supported by the Russian economic community, although the idea also had quite a number of zealous opponents.
RF Economic Development Ministry analysts point out that Russia's entry into the WTO signifies, first of all, the stability of conditions for operation on external markets, the lowering of barriers in trade, as well as the possibility of Russia's participation in forming rules for international economic cooperation.
Active work will be launched this coming autumn towards lifting the existing restrictions agagainst Russia's export. As of July 1, 2012, nineteen countries (Australia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, China, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Moldova, the United States, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, as well as the European Union as a common customs territory) apply protective measures with regard to Russian commodities.
At the same time, one should not forget that conditions for accession to the WTO include actions to lower import customs duties, and limit State support for a number of sectors, which may result in a rise in the competitive power of foreign commodities.
The rates of duties on foreign-made medicines will be lowered from 15 to 6.5 - 5 percent during the transitional period and those on medical equeipment and medicinal substances will be lowered at a priority rate (down to 2-3 percent).
In the course of three years after accession, duties on computers, means of their production, and circuitry will be abolished. Duties on household electrical and electronic appliances will be lowered from 15 percent down to 7-9 percent.
Russian policy in the field of prices of energy resources, now that Russia has joined the WTO, must ensure the reimbursement of expenses and the obtaining of income by Russian producers and suppliers of natural gas. They must act on the basis of commercial considerations.
Vladimir Putin repeatedly expressed confidence that Russia's WTO membership strategically would give a powerful impetus to a dynamic, innovative development of the Russian economy.