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WTO membership gives Russian businesses a say in shaping trade policy - analysts

August 23, 2012, 18:11 UTC+3
One of the main tasks of the Russia in the WTO trade center is to offer businesses the necessary information
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MOSCOW, August 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The negotiating marathon, unprecedented in the WTO history, which on August 22 ended with Russia’s admission to the organization, is a remarkable event not only in the context of the domestic economic realities, but in the longer historical perspective as well, experts at the International Trade Center and the Russia in the WTO international business center, created on its basis, have told Itar-Tass.

They pointed to such strengths of Russia’s WTO membership as stable foreign trade conditions, equitable relations with all partners, lower customs and administrative barriers and access to the WTO disputes settlement system. On the debit side is the possible replacement of domestic goods with imported ones on the domestic market.

According to the ITC general director, Vladimir Salamatov, the very instance of Russia’s admission to the WTO is a “point of departure in a new economic reality for domestic businesses from the very practical point of view.”

“Russian businesses are at a crossroads in a sense – whether to go ahead with alarmist policies and appeal to the government on every occasion that offers itself, or to take an active part in shaping the national agenda in the sphere of international trade. I believe that the latter way is far more constructive, relevant and beneficial to domestic producers. The WTO membership does offer such opportunities,” Salamatov said.

According to the head of the Russia in the WTO international business center, Roman Gubenko, “the speculative approach to discussing WTO effects, which strongly manifested itself in the media lately, is giving way to sound analysis of the norms and rules of that organization.”

“On August 22 new rates of import customs duties took effect,” Gubenko said. “Russia, as a matter of fact, is drifting away from protective tariff control and replacing it with a system of non-tariff measures. This is an opportunity that the WTO rules offer.”

“As a matter of fact, we are moving with the general world trend. In 1947 the average level of import tariffs in the industrialized countries ranged 40-60 percent. By the beginning of the Uruguay round (1986) the level was down to 8-10 percent. During that time the system of international trade showed no signs of stagnation. On the contrary, it boomed,” Gubenko said.

One of the main tasks of the Russia in the WTO trade center is to offer businesses the necessary information, consulting and legal support on a wide range of issues related to the WTO.

“We are at the beginning of the way. I believe that efforts by our business community, alongside measures being taken by the government will have the synergetic effect, which will help domestic businesses gain a firmer foothold on foreign markets,” Gubenko said.

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