Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Concerns grow as hobby drone use increases

Read more

WEB NEWS

Buffalo residents share stunning images of the snowstorm

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Senegalese photographer's flashbacks to Africans throughout history

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande photographed with Julie Gayet on Elysée Palace balcony

Read more

REVISITED

Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Band Aid 30 - Hit or Miss? Bob Geldof in Hot Water over Ebola Single

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Deal or No Deal with Iran? Home Stretch to Reach Historic Agreement

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Football scandals: The ugly side of the beautiful game

Read more

#THE 51%

Ending violence against women: The dangers of trial by Twitter

Read more

Business

Russia enters WTO after 18-year wait

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-22

Russia's 18-year wait to enter the World Trade Organization finally came to an end on Wednesday, when the former communist state became the 156th member of the free trade club.

AFP – Russia on Wednesday crowned a tortuous 18-year journey from communist economic isolation by becoming the largest state outside the World Trade Organization to join the preeminent free trade club.

The more optimistic economists think the transition will add an additional tenth to Russia's gross product to its $2 trillion economy and finally herald the end of its era of bureaucratic mismanagement and impenetrable red tape.

But many of the smaller entrepreneurs complain that a flood of more attractive foreign products could simply wipe them out of business and leave Russia without the domestic industry necessary for achieving sustainable growth.

And almost everyone agrees that the onus will now be on the government to fulfill investors' rising expectations of Russia becoming a country where doing business is not a prohibitively risky bet.

"In the absence of wider reform to clean up the business environment, even the longer-term benefits are likely to disappoint," the London-based Capital Economics research consultancy cautioned.

The Geneva-based institution's 156th member had spent years harbouring deep suspicions about dropping its own growth model of strong state enterprise for one practiced in rival capitalist countries over many centuries.

President Vladimir Putin on July 21 signed the accession document -- a final step clearing the way for Wednesday's formal entry -- after once saying that the group needed Russia much more than the reverse.

Membership symbolically came for Russia and its Top 10 economy on the same day that the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu became the latest minnow to enter a grouping that already enlists almost all of the developed world.

Vanuatu formally grabbed the 157th seat at the trade negotiating table.

"Both accessions show that joining the WTO remains high on the countries' agendas since trade can bring a predictable and stable basis for economic growth," WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said in a statement.

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht in turn called it "a major step for Russia's further integration into the world economy."

Russia will now finish bringing down trade barriers to levels agreed in the negotiations while gaining broader access to foreign markets and benefiting from a more efficient business environment that should help stimulate growth.

Economists call this a best-case scenario that could very well apply to Russia in the years to come.

"This is a great stimulus for developing the economy and competition," Russia's veteran former finance minister Alexei Kudrin wrote on his Twitter account.

The more upbeat analysts predict an 11-percent gain in gross domestic product for Russia over the long term.

"Accession into international institutions such as the WTO lends Russia the credibility it needs to shore up the country's investment environment," Renaissance Capital said in a special report.

But the bank also stressed that it was now up to officials to take the next step of actually doing away with the reams of paperwork and bureaucratic procedures that could keep businesses' competitive spirits flowing.

"Big step in the right direction? Yes, but only if Russia makes the most of it," Renaissance Capital said.

Moscow's negotiators meanwhile said their immediate task now focused on securing quick WTO membership for Belarus and Kazakhstan -- two ex-Soviet countries with command economies that are joined to Russia in a loose customs union.

"Kazakhstan is an absolute priority," chief negotiator Maxim Medvedkov told the government's Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. "And we have to help Belarus."

Date created : 2012-08-22

  • RUSSIA

    Russia gains entry to WTO after 18-year wait

    Read more

  • WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION

    France pledges support for Russia's bid to join WTO

    Read more

COMMENT(S)