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Debate: Russian membership in the WTO

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Should Russia gain membership in the WTO?

Background and context

To gain membership in the WTO, there is a certain process that must be followed.

First, the country has to send a memorandum which lists all of the country's trade and economic policies that deal with WTO agreements to a working party that is assigned to deal with the country's application. Any member countries can join the working party.

Second, after the country has changed its policies to WTO standards, it will initiate bilateral talks with various member countries to discuss rates, tariffs, and policies. In doing so, the country will show the benefits it can bring as a member of the WTO and must follow WTO's "non discrimination rules".

Thirdly, after the working party has examined the countries economic program and negotiations are at an end, the working party will prepare "a report, a draft membership treaty (“protocol of accession”) and lists (“schedules”) of the member-to-be’s commitments."

Finally, the package is sent to the WTO General Council or Ministerial Conference and if it passes by least 2/3 of the vote, the country has the option of signing the protocol and acceding to the organization.

Russia submitted it's appliaction in 1993 and currently, it is in the stage where the Working Party Report and the Factual Summary are being worked on. Bilateral negotiations are also ongoing.

As an observer of the WTO, Russia is required to accede in 5 years.

Contents

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Pro

  • Accession into the WTO is Russia’s topmost priority

Even Valdimir Putin views “ accession as an important step in integrating the Russian economy with the rest of the world and in fostering economic growth and development by attracting foreign investment and by lowering trade barriers”. Even the US and EU view Russia’s accession as a move towards stability in her foreign trade and investment.





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Pro

  • Granting Russia accession could resolve trade disputes in the region. There has been a trade dispute between Russia and Poland over meat exports. Granting both Russia and Poland membership into WTO will compel them to cooperate with each other.





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Con

  • Russia is not ready to join WTO. Russia has deteriorated trade relationships with several states including the United Sates and Britain. She needs to amend her severely strained ties in order to meet the WTO standards. For instance, every member of the WTO has to oblige to its rule on intellectual property rights. Before Russia receives accession into the WTO, she has to cap on her agricultural subsidies.





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