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On Tuesday the lower house of Russian parliament ratified the Protocol on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. MPs from the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia voted against. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry forecast that in the upcoming two years the budget’s direct losses will make up 445 billion roubles, but they will be minimized by the growth of trade. Business representatives believe that some industries will face their worst times over the past 20 years.
One of the main arguments for okaying this document was most probably the fact that if the treaty is not ratified within the shortest possible timeframe, Russia would face the need to resume the negotiations on its accession, the Novye Izvestiya daily wrote. “We will not get better conditions than today, it will take years and it is simply disadvantageous to begin the process anew,” Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov said. A total of 238 MPs voted in favor of the Protocol’s ratification, another 208 MPs voted against it and one MP abstained from voting.
“We will not give a vote for Russia’s WTO accession, as we see no benefits,” LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky was quoted by the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily as saying. “Even if there are some benefits, the number of disadvantages outweighs them clearly,” he said. “Our economy won’t be developing and won’t have any bright prospects. We’ll be goofing in the last coach of the WTO train where all the best places are occupied by multinationals.”
Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted that A Just Russia as well as the Communist Party opposed the document’s ratification. The first deputy chairman of A Just Russia, Mikhail Emelyanov, emphasized the main argument provided by WTO accession supporters - Russia’s mass consumer will benefit from this step - looks rather flawed from the point of view of logic. In theory, of course, a consumer may win, if he/she will have money to buy different goods and services, but if he/she goes jobless, he will not care of all possible benefits. The parliamentarian expressed confidence that it is disadvantageous for Russia to join the WTO, but if it enters this organization, it will be unable to withdraw over heavy financial obligations to its partners.
If the government does not take compensatory measures, Russia’s swine breeding will annually lose around 20 billion roubles, the director-general of Russia’s Swine Breeding Association, Yuri Kovalev, was quoted by RBK-daily as saying. The head of Rosagromash, agricultural machinery manufacturers’ association, Yevgeny Korchevoy, said the market of agricultural machinery will lose up to 30 billion roubles (50-60 percent of the total revenues) and in the long-term – up to 90 billion roubles a year. Moreover, Russia’s car makers can be also hit by accession to the WTO. In 2012 an import duty on used foreign cars will decrease from 35 percent to 25 percent and in seven years – to 20 percent.
Nobody expects resistance from the Federation Council, where the Protocol will be submitted within days, the Kommersant business daily reported. Later President Vladimir Putin will put his signature under it and there is only one hope for WTO accession opponents and they pin it on him.