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GENEVA, January 1. /TASS/. As a member state of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Russia is actively involved in development of global trade rules, Russian Permanent Representative in the WTO Gennady Ovechko told TASS.
Russia joined the global organisation, which marks its 20th anniversary on Thursday, January 1, in 2012 after talks which lasted 18 years. “Accession to the WTO really provided us with a free and non-discriminatory access to foreign markets and permitted beginning procedures to lift a string of restrictive measures which harm interests of Russian exporters and producers,” Gennady Ovechko said. “I would like to recall that thanks to the entry to the WTO Russia has gained terms of membership quite acceptable in terms of joining that did not cause damage to domestic producers, as it is seen in trade statistical reports,” the Russian permanent representative added, noting that “this is important that now Russia is actively engaged in the process of working out global trade rules. If we had stayed aside, this would have been a major factor of risk that could have entailed long-term threats to state interests and interests of producers.”
WTO membership implies fulfilment of several commitments by the global organisation’s states. Meanwhile, emerging disagreements are being settled within a dispute resolution procedure, which permits not to turn rows into trade wars. As for the 2014 results in this aspect, Ovechko recalled that “five disputes are filed against us now.” The European Union is dissatisfied with car scrapping tax. Japan has made the same claims to Moscow. The EU challenges Russian restrictive measures imposed on EU import of live pigs, pork and pork products, anti-dumping duties on light commercial vehicles import and customs duties on several types of industrial and agricultural goods. “Meanwhile, Russia has initiated two legal actions against the EU over the methodology of calculating anti-dumping duties and several anti-dumping measures as well as measures in the energy sector [the Third Energy Package] also against the EU,” Ovechko noted. In his words, Russia’s WTO partners are mostly active “in disputes over import of EU pork and light commercial vehicles from Germany and Italy.” These disputes “undergo legal procedures, panels of arbitrators are set up or are being created, but active court proceedings did not begin yet.” The 2015 year “will bring serious challenges to us in terms of work on these disputes,” he said. For Russia “the most important issue is incompliance of the EU Third Energy Package with the WTO rules.” “We addressed to the organisation, had bilateral consultations with the EU. We are absolutely convinced that we are right and hope for a positive outcome of this dispute for us,” Gennady Ovechko added.
In general, disputes in the WTO are not something extraordinary. For 20 years of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body’s functioning 486 legal actions have been taken. The United States is leading as a plaintiff with 107 lawsuits, the European Union - 94, Canada - 34, Brazil - 27, Mexico - 23, India - 21, China - 12. The U.S. was also most frequent defendant - 121 times, the EU - 80, China - 32, Argentina and India - 22 each.
“The logic is the following: economic interest is important, and in this sense all argue with all,” Ovechko added, noting that “meanwhile, usually the larger the economy is, the higher the interest to it and the more disputes it has. So, when we contemplate whether Russia has many or few disputes, this is a rhetorical question. There could have been more, but there could have been fewer. From the practical viewpoint we do not have special problems in this issue. Dozens of countries from largest to little are involved in tens of WTO trade arbitration cases, moreover, without even slightly looking back at some political, allied ties with each other.”.