Will WTO strangle or revive Russia?

The accession to the WTO is quite a responsible step for Russia. In the coming years, Russia will have to completely revise the ways it positions itself on the world market, develop new mechanisms of cooperation with partners, and achieve a new quality of interaction between business and government. This was said last week during the meeting of Mercury Club, which was held at the Center for World Trade.

The meeting was held in Moscow on October 11. The participants of the meeting summed up the results of many years of negotiations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Despite numerous controversial and clearly dangerous conditions economic-wise, there is no alternative left for Russia. For the time being, Russia's readiness for competition in the global market is zero. One can not do without sophisticated industrial and agricultural policy of the state in this new direction, experts say.

The host of the meeting, the president of Mercury Club, Yevgeny Primakov, said that Russia had come a long way before she was able to join the organization. The Russian economy has become a part of the global economy. A return to isolationism is impossible. Many countries in the world have walked this road before. "Here is an example - China. It took the country eleven years to become a WTO member. Since 2001, when China finally joined the WTO, the size of its GDP has quadrupled, and the turnover of foreign trade has increased seven times," said Primakov. Russia will have to do a lot of work in this direction, as it can not ignore global trends. It is impossible to remain outside the organization that determines the behavior on international markets.

The second issue, which the president of Mercury Club discussed, was as follows. Was it possible for Russia to wait with the entry to the WTO? "Let me remind you that the negotiations on WTO accession continued for 17 years. Step by step, it was possible to remove the resistance of a number of countries that often took openly hostile position to Russia. One had to maneuver under such conditions and conduct long and serious negotiations and political demarches. The artificial slowdown of Russia's entry into the WTO would mean that one would have to conduct the campaign from the start. Nobody wanted to run such risks," said Primakov.

The final terms of Russia's entry into the organization make a separate topic for discussion. During the process of negotiations, it became possible to mitigate a number of requirements to Russia as a candidate country. It was initially proposed that Russia should let foreign companies access the extraction of natural resources with the transportation of oil and gas via pipelines. "In the end, it was agreed that it would be up to the Russian government to determine access to resources, in accordance with the Russian legislation."

Russia has also won a quota for the participation of foreign capital in the banking and insurance sector, softened the requirement for the introduction of import duties, has not accepted the obligations to align domestic and international prices on energy, and declined imports of food and medicines, the use of which may be harmful healthwise.

The participants of the meeting pointed out that in the course of negotiations on Russia's accession to the WTO, there were regulations adopted, which brought the Russian legislation in line with WTO rules, and even improved the Russian laws. As a result, the current Russian legislation is fully consistent with WTO rules and regulations, in particular the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The WTO commitments can only confirm this.

The study of the situation, which was conducted with the participation of experts, showed that 18 industries do not seek any financial support, but they need help in changing legal regulations and legislative acts. The industries that could be affected include agriculture - agricultural machinery, to be more precise. The draft budget for the next year stipulates the allocation of 2 billion rubles for modernization.

The state of affairs in the light industry is not going to be easy either. Import duties are to be reduced from 40 to 5%. Imports already occupy 80% of the market. Therefore, deputies suggest enterprises of light, textile and leather industries should be relieved of the income tax for 5-10 years. As much as 5 billion rubles are to be assigned for the support of producers in total. It goes about aircraft-building, composite materials and light industry.

The main task of the whole endeavor is to improve the business environment, limit the influence of monopolies and achieve a new quality of communication between business and government. A strategic objective of Russia's participation in the WTO is to strengthen the country's position in the world as a full-fledged participant of international trade. Being a member of the World Trade Organization, Russia will have new goals. Will the national economy benefit from this? Time will tell.

Artyom Cherniavsky.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov