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Russia & WTO: Meat Imports Still to be Resolved

by 5m Editor
11 February 2011, at 10:01am

RUSSIA - The issue of meat and poultry imports is among the last hurdles still to be overcome before Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO).

If all goes well, the European Union and the United States expect Russia will be able to join the World Trade Organization in January 2012, reports RIA Novosti. Washington has put the chances at 95 per cent, while European Commission President Manuel Barroso said he had attended 13 EU-Russia summits on this issue and hopes that the thirteenth was the last.

After 17 years of talks, missed opportunities and more talks, Russia finally has a foot in the door of the WTO. But crossing the threshold may prove more painful than expected.

WTO accession: pros and cons

Russia is already a member in all the major international associations, such as the G8 and the G20 but not the WTO. In fact, it is the only large economy in the world (ranked 10th or 11th) outside of the 153-member WTO. It is like being the only member of the country club without a platinum credit card, according to RIA Novosti.

The World Trade Organization is like the Olympics of trade. It has very strict code of conduct and conditions for participating in its "games," including testing for doping. Member countries are not allowed to approve protectionist taxes and laws for their economies that put other players at a disadvantage.

Russia will sure to be admitted to the WTO, and the truth is this will benefit the organization more than Russia.

WTO membership comes with the promise of more investment, new technology and other benefits crucial for economic modernisation. But it will not change anything about oil and gas exports, because they are not regulated by the WTO.

Russian agriculture and manufacturing will be hardest hit in the initial stage following entry in the WTO. These sectors will have to work hard to survive the fierce competition from their foreign competitors.

Among the unresolved problems standing in the way of Russian membership are copyright infringement (pirated goods abound in the Russian economy), meat and poultry imports to Russia, trade in electronics and other products with an encryption function, Russia's inadequate financial legislation, transparency and investment protection.

Russia has made great strides on these issues but there is more work to be done. The US and EU see largely eye to eye on these unresolved problems in the Russian economy, concludes the RIA Novosti report.