Class Read The Short Story Beginning On Page Fifty-Two Tonight Russia’s Accession to the WTO – What Does It Mean?

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Russia’s Accession to the WTO – What Does It Mean?

Better late than never

On 11 November 2011, Russian and WTO working parties agreed on terms paving the way for Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organization. Russian lawmakers approved membership on 22 August 2012.

The path to becoming a member is difficult to say the least. The original negotiations began in 1993 and have been ongoing ever since.

After his successful presidential election in 2000, Vladimir Putin got behind the accession plan and was a key player in the final outcome. He repeatedly expressed his frustration at the negotiations and how the “rules of the game” were being changed for various WTO partners.

While the WTO is ostensibly an apolitical global trade organization, the delays and obstacles Russia has faced in recent years have been politically charged.

Ahead of the deal, Vladimir Putin recently said in a Chinese TV interview;

“We want to join the World Trade Organization. This is our goal and our objective. In our opinion, this will have a generally positive effect on the economy of Russia, mostly because it will increase the level of confidence in the economy and in the administrative sphere. And the legal process within the economy. However, we consider our domestic legislation Fully aligned with WTO requirements. We have done that. We have also settled major issues with all major partners. I think it has become more of a political issue.”

He was less diplomatic during an interview on Russian TV when he slammed the EU and the US for delaying and deliberately delaying Russian accession. This back drop is against the open hostility towards Russia by some US lawmakers who wrote to the US WTO Trade Representative on November 10 about their ‘significant concerns’ and demanded that Russia demonstrate “clear, substantive and swift action” in WTO compliance. Obligation

“Substantive” can be used as a Russian compliment but neither ‘clarity’ nor ‘prompt’ I see much in the Federation.

The WTO as an organization oversees and liberalizes international trade, regulates trade between member countries and provides a platform for negotiating and negotiating trade agreements.

Importantly for Russian success and its ability to attract new inward investment, the WTO agreements enforce dispute settlement aimed at members’ compliance.

The WTO has 153 members and represents more than 97% of the world’s population, so Russia’s absence since the fall of the USSR has been inexplicable. With a GDP of $1.5 trillion and as the world’s largest oil and gas producer, Russia should have been at the WTO years ago.

WTO membership will not change the business environment or the high risk assessment given to Russia by foreign investors. What it should do is add impetus to significant reform and efficiency drives and reflect the importance the Russian government places on fighting inefficiency, corruption and cronyism.

The last 12 months saw the closure of hundreds of customs posts, the dismissal of many customs officers and the opening of new import facilities to promote faster, fairer growth, attracting billions of dollars from the auto and pharmaceutical sectors.

There is no doubt that membership is good for Russia. This brings much needed capital to the Russian market. Relations with the West were strained after the five-day Georgian conflict in 2008, and investors pulled $300 billion from Russia in the seven months following hostilities. Further outflows reached $70 billion in 2011, against Russia’s central bank’s forecast of $36 billion.

According to the World Bank, Russian WTO membership will bring both sustained and incremental annual economic growth of 2%, and this success is measured against a backdrop of contraction and uncertainty in global markets. Russia’s accession to the WTO is the ‘good news’ that global markets have been looking for after the WTO fiasco in Doha, the ongoing Euro-zone meltdown and the relentless, depressing news from US markets.

Consensus on WTO accession (the final hurdle was reached when Russia and Georgia signed an agreement on November 9 in Geneva authorizing Russia’s entry into the WTO, after both agreed to international monitoring of disputed crossings with South Ossetia and Abkhazia) came just weeks after Vladimir Putin. confirmed his return to the Russian presidency on 24 September.

The ruble was the strongest performer among the top 25 currencies following this consensus, gaining more than 5% against the US dollar. The Russian stock market rose more than 15%, the biggest jump in the world, and Russian oil jumped 7% over the same period.

Whether immediate accession to the WTO is good for small or inefficient industries is another story. There are fears that cheap imports will flood the market and hurt ‘small’ Russian industries. Who and what is this ‘small’ art, I do not know. Russia today is a huge importer of consumer goods and distributors will see new competition on their hands but the absence of cottage industries is questionable.

Russia exported more than $400 billion in 2010, mainly to the EU, Ukraine, Turkey, China and Belarus. WTO membership opens up new markets where Russian products have historically been blocked. Russian steel and iron manufacturers are vocal supporters of Russian accession and will be the main beneficiaries as trade barriers are lowered and Russian products are allowed to enter, if not actually welcome, new markets. Typical imports were valued at about $250 billion

Maxim Medvedkov, the chief Russian negotiator at the WTO, said, “More than a third of our GDP is generated abroad… We are seventh in the world in terms of exports. We need a stable predictable instrument for trade development”.

European companies are primarily in the best position to benefit from Russia’s WTO entry. EU business dominates Russia’s external trade and has been integrated for longer than other blocs. U.S. opportunities are limited in the short term due to the Jackson-Vanik amendment, but since Jackson-Vanik violates WTO membership, Russia must be released very quickly. For all US political bluster and anti-Russian sentiment, Jackson-Vanik will default or US companies miss opportunities.

What would be the difference?

Domestic consumer goods producers will face greater competition from imports and safeguards and measures are set to help the sector become more efficient.

WTO rules require the liberalization of domestic energy markets and the end of monopolies and gas subsidies. This means more competition in Russia’s domestic gas market and easier access for independent producers where domestic prices are moving closer to export prices.

Given the Russian government’s efforts to attract inward investment in both R&D and manufacturing, it is no surprise that there will be protection for nascent and reestablished industries for seven years. Agriculture, automotive and aircraft manufacturing sectors are ring-fenced.

Exporters will face fewer barriers in terms of import duties and quotas that will be phased out gradually rather than overnight with membership.

The main terms of the WTO Agreement are:

The average import duty will be reduced from 10% to 7.8% with the agreement to reduce the tariff by 33% from the date of accession. The 25% tariff will be reduced after a three-year lead time while other tariff changes (such as automotive and aviation) will be reduced after seven years. Agricultural duty is secured for eight years.

The average agricultural import duty will be reduced from 13.2% to 10.8%. Import duty on milk will come down from 19.8% to 14.9% and on cereals from 15.15 to 10.0%.

Import tariffs on poultry products will be protected for eight years and total Russian government agricultural subsidies will be capped at $9 billion in 2012 and then reduced to $4.4 billion by 2018.

The average manufactured import duty will be reduced from 9.5% to 7.3%

Automotive import duty will be reduced from 15.5% to 12.0% but with a safeguard period of seven years. Preferential tariffs for automakers investing heavily in Russian-based production will be reduced by 1 July 2018, according to Decree 166/566.

Import duty on chemicals will be reduced from 6.5% to 5.2%

Russia has agreed to develop market-based pricing for the domestic market but, consistent with its social program, will regulate pricing for household and non-commercial users.

The 49% foreign equity ownership limit for the telecom industry will be scrapped in 2016.

100% foreign-owned banks will be allowed to open in Russia for the first time but with an overall 50% limit on foreign bank control of the sector.

Foreign insurance companies can open owned branches nine years after Russia joins the WTO 100% foreign-owned companies will be able to operate in the wholesale, retail and franchise sectors immediately after membership.

In short we can say ‘better late than never’ and realize that the accession marathon was not a waste of time (for Russia) because the terms negotiated by Russia are favorable. They guarantee Russian access to foreign markets (“most favored nation” status) and enable Russia to use the WTO to settle any trade disputes. Membership creates an improved foreign investment environment and provides greater Russian opportunities for investment in WTO member countries.

Russia can now better defend its economic interests in negotiating international trade agreements.

Of immense importance are transfer concessions that limit access to foreign goods in Russia while Russia upgrades manufacturing and infrastructure to challenge international competition.

Russia has shown it is not afraid to make the necessary investments and has committed billions of dollars to brand new and replacement infrastructure and manufacturing projects. Russia’s entry into world trade is the biggest step in global trade since China joined ten years ago.

If you’re sitting in Strasbourg or Washington DC, you might consider that Russia has negotiated unfettered access to world markets while protecting its domestic manufacturing base against foreign intrusion for a long time, and has done so at the worst possible time. A recession in world trade in modern history. You may not respect the talent that negotiates the stroke of entering new markets while ensuring its own protection. This negotiating skill would suggest that not only Russia’s leaders know what they are thinking; They also know what everyone else is thinking.

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