MOSCOW, September 15. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting of the State Council to discuss domestic business development as part of Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), according to a document published on the government’s legal information portal on Monday.
The State Council will convene in the Grand Kremlin Palace on September 18 to discuss measures to boost the competitiveness of domestic business on international markets under the WTO rules and regulations.
Russian business development becomes of special significance in the wake of Western sanctions imposed against Russia over its stance on the Ukraine crisis. Russian leaders have already indicated that Moscow may prepare and file lawsuits to the WTO to challenge the Western sanctions.
Officials from the European Union, which has also imposed sanctions against Moscow but has been hit by Russia’s retaliatory measures, are also going to apply to the WTO over these counter-sanctions.
President Putin said in April at a media forum in St. Petersburg that Russia had a possibility as a WTO member “to protect its interests within this organization”.
The West started to impose sanctions on Russia in March 2014 over the events in Ukraine. First, an early EU summit stalled the talks on a visa-free regime and a new base agreement on Russia-EU cooperation. Further on, the sanctions were grouped into three categories - personal, corporate and sectoral.
By the beginning of September, some 420 Russian individuals and 143 companies had been put on the sanction lists of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and Norway.
The most recent set of sanctions against Russia was introduced last week by the European Union and the United States.
Russia responded to Western restrictive measures by imposing a one-year ban on food and agricultural imports from the countries that had slapped sanctions against Moscow.
At a meeting with agricultural producers in the breadbasket Stavropol Region in southern Russia in June, Putin said Moscow would use all available WTO mechanisms to protect its markets and would agree to sign free trade deals with other countries, only if this move would not run counter to the interests of domestic producers.
“Of course, we need to use all WTO instruments. I know that many developed countries and long-standing WTO members know all instruments that help protect their economies and, of course, they use them,” Putin said.
The Russian president stated on many occasions that Russia will be able both to protect domestic producers and remain within the WTO framework.
“We need to organize our work in such a way that it does not contradict our WTO obligations, but even taking this circumstance into account, we nonetheless have legitimate methods and instruments to protect our own market and citizens,” Putin said earlier.