Russia Becomes 156th Member of the WTO But Unlikely to see China’s Export Growth

MOSCOW: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 Russia officially moved into the World Trade Organization and ended a complicated 18-year campaign to becoming the largest country outside the (WTO) to formally join the world’s premier free trade club.

The protocol on Russia’s accession to the Marrakesh Agreement, the foundation document for the World Trade Organization (WTO), enters into force on Wednesday.

The document, which makes Russia the global trade body’s 156th member, was signed in Geneva on December 16, 2011 after 18 years of negotiations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal law that authorizes the protocol on July 21.

The Economic Development Ministry said the WTO membership will lower prices for both imported and domestic goods. According to the World Bank, the admission will give Russia an additional 3.3 percent of GDP annually for the first three years, with the figure likely to increase later.

Critics have claimed that Russia’s accession to the WTO is detrimental to the country’s national sovereignty and security and could ruin entire sectors of the domestic economy.

Russia enters the WTO on conditions that fully meet its national interest. The accession will help improve this country’s business climate and attract foreign investment.

Russia’s commodity-based economy is unlikely to now see the kind of export growth boost that the same accession led to for China. Syria is about to secure a deal with Russia, whereby the latter will provide the former with oil products to keep its economy and military afloat. Russia assures the world that Syria will not use chemical weaponsagainst rebels.

President Vladimir Putin is looking to boost economic growth by investing in the refining industry, looking to boost diesel exports by over 50% next year. Sberbank teamed up with the Royal Bank of Scotland to give Gazprom a $500 million credit line to build a polyethylene production facility, although this article argues that Gazprom’s output and European exports are plummeting. The company’s long-planned St Petersburg skyscraper has won its final building permits.

A new report by the Minchenko Consulting Group alleges that the Kremlin ‘is grooming influential figures such as liberal-leaning former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and nationalist Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as possible leaders in the case of a political crisis’.

The name ‘Pussy Riot’ is being trademarked to prevent outsiders from profiting through use of the group’s image, with one record producer estimating the trademark to be worth tens of millions of dollars worldwide. Simon Jenkins accuses British politicians of ‘hypocrisy’ for criticising the Kremlin over the Pussy Riot imprisonment.

State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov wants the warning issued to him after his participation in the May 6 March of Millions to be dropped. Sergei Udaltsov has been fined for organising an unpermitted action on August 9. Artem Osmayev, the Chechen detained in Ukraine and accused of plotting to assassinate President Putin, has had his extradition to Russia postponed by the European Court of Human Rights. Orthodox Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Poland marks ‘the unification of churches that actively oppose homosexuality, permissiveness and other “liberal values”’.

Contributor D. Chandler