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Russia becomes full-fledged WTO member

Now Russia will be able to participate in the development of global trade rules

On August 22, after 18 years of negotiations on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) the Protocol on the country’s accession to the Marrakech Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organisation comes into force. Now Russia will be able to participate in the development of global trade rules, will get reduced duties and contribute to the development of Russian business.

Joining the WTO, Russia will be able to participate in the development of global trade rules, thus saying goodbye to the “invisible” status of an observer country, will get reduced duties that in the first place will play into the hands of the Russian metal exporters (ferrous and non-ferrous metals) and chemical industry products, RBC Daily writes. “In recent years, the Russian exports have not only been not diversified, but were getting even worse. None of the measures for the exports promotion was adopted. In fact, the accession to the WTO is the first weighty measure for the promotion of Russian exports,” Professor at the New Economic School (NES) Natalya Volchkova believes.

The World Bank (WB) studies indicate that the entry into the WTO will lead to higher wages, both for low-wage workers and for highly skilled personnel, the newspaper notes. WB experts explain that this effect is by the fact that the new foreign companies wishing to open their representative offices in Russia will have to recruit personnel of both categories.

In general, Russia’s right in the WTO cannot be called impaired. The country managed to “negotiate” the conditions of admission of foreign banks’ subsidiaries to the domestic market: foreign banking groups can work there only through Russian subsidiaries that are registered and regulated by the Russian Central Bank. The “gas” issue has been settled no less favourably: the 30 percent gas export duty remains. The issue of the setting of transitional periods has also been agreed upon: a fairly long period of “acclimatisation” will be set for such industries as automobile manufacturing, agriculture and insurance.

Transitional periods for the liberalisation of the access to the market are two or three years, and for the most sensitive products - five to seven years. Members of the ratification working group classified the automotive industry, agriculture, agricultural machine building light industry as sensitive sectors in which some economic and financial difficulties may arise due to the new conditions.

According to the market participants, these sectors of the economy will suffer annual losses of tens of billions of roubles as a result of the country’s WTO accession.

The WTO membership also opens up for Russia’s businesses fundamentally new opportunities, believes Director of Trade Negotiations Department of the RF Economic Development Ministry Maxim Medvedkov who is quoted by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. “The main plus is the stability of the rules of trade, transparency of legislation and administrative procedures. Better conditions for the access to foreign markets are also being created, so that companies can count on the development of their export programs. Some enterprises may face risks associated primarily with the reduction of tariffs and other barriers to imports. The government, the Customs Union has the tools to neutralise them. However, the initiative of their application is in the hands of businesses,” the expert said.