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TRADE WARS
Russia as WTO Member Must Resort to Sophisticated Methods
by Nikita Sorokin
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Nov 30, 2012


File image.

November marks a symbolic date which is very important though - 100 days of Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). "We should not underestimate this event.

Russia's accession to the WTO will seriously influence the country itself, its trade partners, the World Trade Organization, and the multilateral trading system" WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said. What might be the pluses and the minuses of Russia's membership in the WTO for this country and for its partners?

FIRST Russia had covered a long and difficult way before it joined the organization, and although it was for all parties concerned, radical changes will not occur soon, Director of the Information Office on Russia's accession to the WTO Professor Alexei Portansky from the Higher School of Economics says.

"For our partners - foreign investors - Russia's membership in the organization creates understandable and internationally recognized rules of the game. To be more exact, the predictability of the trading regime. This is very important for business, for planning contacts and ties, and also for signing long-term contracts."

Russia has brought its trade legislation into conformity with the world legislation - therefore, its partners can be sure that working on the Russian market, far away from the European perturbations, they will receive stable benefits, Alexei Portansky says. . There is no doubt that Europe can increase its supplies of foodstuffs, medicines, medical equipment, and machine-building products to Russia.

There are plans for a considerable reduction of customs duties in a number of cases. For example, the duties for medicines are expected to drop from 15 to 5 to 6 per cent within the period of 3 to 5 years. Altogether, 12,000 items have been agreed within the WTO framework. Russia's sanitary standards have been also brought into conformity with the WTO rules.

Russia's market is extensive - therefore, naturally, it is of great interest for foreign business, a senior analyst with the Alpari Company, Darya Zhelannova, says. Since its joining WTO barriers will be lowered, foreign companies will be able to use a simplified scheme to set up subsidiaries and open their offices in Russia.

Besides, taking into account that Russia has adopted the WTO standards, foreign companies receive a serious legal protection in this country. Our companies receive similar advantages, Darya Zhelannova said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

"Russian businessmen will gain access to the world markets - earlier a great number of markets all over the world were closed to them. For example, the European steel market. Today since we have accepted the WTO rules, Russia will be able to supply both its goods and resources without any infringements of its rights."

Before Russia became a WTO member, its foreign rivals were able to start a trade investigation on their territory against Russian export companies, including an anti-dumping investigation. Most often, this led to the closure of national markets for Russian products.

In the 1990 and at the beginning of the 2000s Russian steel turned into a favourite target for foreign trade protectionists. Had Russia been a WTO member at that time, it would have been able to avoid numerous losses. But now it might face other difficulties, Head of the Department of Personal Financial Planning at the Financial BKS Group Natalya Smirnova says.

There is a serious risk that with Western companies entering the Russian market, especially, agriculture, motor industry and aircraft construction, Russian producers will not stand the rivalry. The outcome of this struggle will depend on the support of the national business by the Russian authorities.

Russia's joining the WTO does not mean giving up the policy aimed at the support of the national economy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the session of the National Security Council some days ago. Speaking about measures to protect the domestic market, the Russian head of state said that it would be good for both officials and businessmen to follow the example of the "WTO old timers" which are using sophisticated methods, not violating the rules.

Source: Voice of Russia

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