Yawn…Russia’s 18 Year Quest for WTO membership is Almost Over

by Julian Ku

Here is a story that no one (here in the U.S. anyway) is paying attention to:

Russia’s accession to the WTO cleared a major hurdle when the WTO Working Party on its accession approved, ad referendum on 10 November 2011, the package spelling out Russia’s terms of entry to the organization. The Working Party will now send its accession recommendation to the 15 —17 December Ministerial Conference, where Ministers are expected to approve the documents and accept Russia as a WTO Member.

Apparently, a last-minute deal with Georgia sealed the deal, and Russia will become the last of the “BRICs” to join the WTO (assuming the U.S. Congress will play ball, which I assume it will since Russian imports threaten no U.S. industries, and Russia has enjoyed low tariff status in the U.S. since 1992 anyway). 

What is the significance of this? Short term, it is not a very big deal. Russia is not currently one of the world’s most dominant economic players, but it obviously has a very important long-term role in the world economy. And Russia is agreeing to subject itself to WTO rules for trade and investment, which may revive foreign interest in doing business there.  A big moment for the WTO, though, that has received very little attention as other big news (the euro crisis) has overshadowed.


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