Russia's Accession to the WTO

By Moore, Mike | Presidents & Prime Ministers, March 2001 | Go to article overview

Russia's Accession to the WTO


Moore, Mike, Presidents & Prime Ministers


It is good to be back in Russia again, and as always, I am spellbound by the grandeur of it, and deeply impressed by the signs of change and the deep sense of history and destiny of leaders driven by duty.

From the World Trade Organization's standpoint, it is a momentous time for me to visit Russia, as it is now clear that Russia's accession process is on solid ground and is visibly moving towards an engaged negotiating phase. Since last year, it has become apparent to all that things have really started to move forward in the Russian Federation. Regarding Russia's membership of the WTO, all signs point to an acceleration of work in the coming months.

Joining the WTO sends a clear message to the world community about a nation's commitment to the rule of law, property rights and good governance. Yugoslavia's Minister for Foreign Economic Relations said recently in (,eneva, Switzerland, "We believe the WTO is a cornerstone of the international economic system. It is crucial thai we must participate in it. We believe membership will contribute to the democratization of Yugoslavia and will greatly contribute to stability in southeastern Europe." That is why so many nations wish to become members.

Let me recall a few points on Russia's accession negotiations. The recent delivery of Russia's revised market access offers in goods and services marked a major change in the tone of the negotiations. These revisions resulted from a process of intensive consultation with concerned WTO members. From this new spirit of cooperative negotiation we now see actual engagement between Russia and its trading partners in the negotiations on market access in both goods and services. Russia continues to work closely and positively with all interested WTO members, and accordingly, we are beginning to understand what the eventual elements of a deal will contain. I should stress, however, that many months of difficult, and probably complex work remain, particularly in the services area, but be reassured that this is the case in any negotiation as one gets closer to the end.

The multilateral work also continues to develop. It is no secret that this work has not progressed as quickly as we all hoped. The Working Party commenced its work on Russia's legal and economic regime in 1995. The object of this exercise is the comparison of Russia's system with the very detailed requirements of the WTO agreements. Knowing the recent history of your country, you will all well understand the amount of work that is required.

This work is painstaking and focuses on the identification of any areas of non-compliance, together with plans for bringing those areas into conformity with the WTO agreement. The big breakthrough has come in the last year, with the Russian side demonstrating its clear commitment to legislative and administrative reform. I want to commend President Putin and his government for the courage and foresight they have shown in pursuing these reforms.

The Working Party is re-energized by the pace and direction of WTO related legislation that has been enacted the last months, and by the work planned in this regard for the coming months. This is a very positive development. There is now a clear link between the new legislation required by the WTO and the domestic economic reform being undertaken by the government of President Putin. The two are mutually supportive and interlinked. We have also seen a very clear cooperative linkage between the executive and the parliament. It is evident that both are working towards equipping Russia with the means to implement WTO rules and disciplines. I am very confident of seeing further acceleration in the coming months.

In order to be consolidated and sustained, because of its interlinkage with Russian domestic economic reform, the process of accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO must benefit from the continuing advice and actual engagement of all sectors of Russian economic life. …

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