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MOSCOW, January 30. /ITAR-TASS/. One year and a half after Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization on August 22, 2012, the Ministry of Economic Development (MED), Higher School of Economics, and Sberbank are setting up a WTO evaluation centre to provide federal authorities with qualified consultations as to foreign trade disputes.
WTO members have already lodged several applications concerning Russian regulations, among them one about the introduction of a utilization duty. Besides, several EU countries complained about the Russian ban on livestock import after the March 2012 outbreak of a disease caused by the Schmallenberg virus. Lately, the U.S. filed an application about Russia’s ban on the U.S. meat import as it contained the prohibited stimulator ractopamine. As the U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul put it late last year, this caused the U.S. a grave loss of $5-6 billion.
Now it’s high time Russia asserted its economic rights in the WTO.
Late in December Russia referred to the WTO its first application against the EU, which applied protective measures against Russian supplies of metallurgical and chemical products. The EU calculates their value on the basis of European, not Russian energy prices, and deems prices for these goods understated and giving Russia competitive edge against European counterparts.
Russia has a lingering litigation ahead as asserting a country’s trade interests necessitates hundreds of qualified specialists and adequate financing, the latter planned to be within the domain of Sberbank of Russia.
Gazprom can become the first beneficiary of the Centre, as the experts are going to try their hand at the dispute over the so called Third Energy Package. The EU’s demands stipulated in the package oblige Gazprom to give access to its gas pipelines to third parties, that is to other suppliers willing to provide Europe with gas, which can entail damage for the Russian gas export monopoly. Hence, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom’s head Aleksey Miller spoke against the document.
Obviously, the Centre will be in demand for both resolving the current trade clashes with the partners and implementing foreign trade tasks in the future.
“WTO is a huge list of international accords. To puzzle them out, one needs to be conversant with different sectors of the economy, international trade and law. This requires hundreds of highly skilled specialists,” Director of Vnesheconombank’s Department for Strategic Analysis and Development Vladimir Andrianov told Itar-Tass.
“Surely, we do not have enough specialists in interaction with WTO. They are scattered among different ministries and work in Russia’s trade missions abroad. But they are mainly concentrated in the Ministry of Economic Development under the supervision of Director for Trade Negotiations, Maxim Medvedkov. He is our chief negotiator with the WTO. Thus far, we have not had an organization providing legal advice on trade disputes with the WTO,” Andrianov added.
And it is Medvedkov who is expected to head the Centre.
“This Centre should have been established in 2000, when Russia decided to urgently join the WTO. We have wasted much time but it is better late than never,” the Director of the Institute of Globalization Studies, Mikhail Delyagin, told Itar-Tass.
“Russia needs a centre for interaction with the WTO as a person in litigation needs a lawyer,” said the expert.
As a former advisor to Russia's prime minister, Delyagin admits Russia suffers a dire shortage of specialists to resolve rows with the WTO, especially given the disadvantageous conditions on which Russia joined the club.
In particular, according to Andrianov, Russian agricultural producers, manufacturers of civil aircraft and a number of large businesses were outspoken in their discontent with these conditions.
Therefore, specialists of the MED, foreign trade organizations as well as scientific community should make concerted efforts in Russia’s best interests to train young and talented professionals to succeed them for interaction with the WTO, the experts believe.
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