Russia is as of today the newest member to WTO the World Trade Organisation
Russia is as of today the 157th member of WTO the World Trading Organisation. Its adherence followed a record of 18 (!) years of negotiation
WTO Director General, Pascal Lamy, comments: ”It has been a long journey, but today Russia has taken a big step towards its destination of membership in the WTO. In acceding to the WTO, Russia embraces a series of rules and commitments that are the foundation of an open, transparent and non-discriminatory global trading system. This system provides important guarantees for Russia and for 253 other Members of WTO. This win-win result will bring Russia more firmly into the global economy and make it a more attractive place to do business”.
Russia’s chief negotiator for the Russian federation declares: “It is gratifying to see that after 18 years of sometimes uneasy negotiations the process of WTO accession has been completed today. The agreement as negotiated brings us into the system of multilateral trading rules, creating new opportunities for our traders and investors and enabling us to protect their commercial interests even more effectively than before”.
According to EU sources the WTO accession of Russia will have a positive impact on the conditions of trade and investment between the two entities. The geographical position of Russia and the importance of its markets in terms of volume and growth make it a very important trading partner of the EU. As a consequence of the WTO accession, Russia will be amongst others lower its import duties, limit its export duties, grant greater market access for EU service providers and facilitate rules and procedures in many areas affecting bilateral economic relations. Of particular importance will e regulations on customs procedures, the use of health and sanitary measures, technical standards and the protection of intellectual property. Russia will be subject to WTO rules in all these areas, including its monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Certain recently implemented or proposed legislation seems to be at odds with Russia’s commitments and would stand in the way of the WTO members fully realising the benefits expected from Russia’s WTO accession. The EU is particularly concerned about the proposed new legislation providing for a car recycling fee which could discriminate against import vehicles and hopes that this legislation will not be adopted.
The EU exports to Russia in 2011 amounted to EUR 108.4 billion and EU imports achieved EUR 199.5 billion and the total trade in good amounted to EUR 308 billion. The main EU export items were cars (EUR 7 billion), medicines (EUR 6 billion), car parts (EUR 3.5 billion), telephones and parts (ERU 2.5 billion) and tractors (EUR 1 billion). The EU imports cover mainly raw materials thereof crude oil and refined EUR 130 million and gas EUR 24 billion. For these products, as well for other important raw materials, Russia committed itself to limit its export duties. The Russian accession to WTO concern market access improvements for goods and services. The import duties for goods will decrease from a current average of 20 % to an average 7.8 %. In some important sectors, such as automotives, the import duty reductions are more significant decreasing from currently 30 % to 25 % upon accession and to 15 percent after seven years. It is estimated that the overall tariff reductions will result in savings of EUR 2.5 billion annually in import duties for EU exporters. Furthermore the reduced tariffs are estimated to stimulate EUR 3.9 billion of additional EU exports to Russia annually. In the telecommunications sector, Russia is to phase out its current equity caps of 49 % for foreign investors within four years. The EU is the largest foreign investor in Russia with an investment value of around EUR 120 million in 2010 and Russian investments in the EU amounted in the same period to EUR 42 billion.
It has to be added that Vanatu will become also a WTO member on August 24, 2012 and thus the membership extends to 158.