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WTO cuts both ways2011-12-27 11:29
The last obstacle to Russia's WTO accession was Georgia. They agreed on Russia's joining only after Moscow made compromise and allowed to place international observers at the border with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Saakashvili called it a victory for Tbilisi. Is it so in fact? And what consequences will entail Moscow's accession into World Trade Organization? GTimes' correspondent asked the Director General IA CredInform, an expert on economic issues Andrei Litov about this.
From your point of view, how significant is concession on the part of Russia? And was it worth to compromise for the sake of joining the World Trade Organization?
Of course, this concession has political nature, made by Moscow for the sake of joining the WTO. Staying of the observer does not change the general policy of Russia in its relations with Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, Georgia perceived this event as a distinct political victory; the event has been promoted and widely publicized. Of course, in Russia this event was covered much less. As a result, Georgia has the right to consider itself the winner in this issue, and Russia got the opportunity to join the WTO.
Why the negotiation process was greatly accelerated during the election period?
Perhaps the completion of the accession to the WTO was to help ruling party to gain additional votes. Having felt that their popularity decrease (which was confirmed by the results of the elections), representatives of the party made every effort to ensure the negotiation process to be completed as early as possible. It is also likely that this process was accelerated at the initiative of Dmitry Medvedev, which was associated with a desire of the incumbent head of state to complete the process of accession to the organization of our country till the end of his term. It can be assumed that the decision to accelerate the process was also associated with a statement about the reshuffle in the ruling tandem, announced at the September congress of United Russia.
However, the participants of the negotiation from the Russian Federation (e.g., Medvedkov) do not associate activation of the WTO negotiations with the Duma elections. Most likely, the activity of the talks depended on Russia's relations with the U.S.: when they get "warm" there is a revival in the negotiations. We also can link it with some political instability and changes in the political life of Europe.
Why the United States lobbied for Russia's accession to the WTO, if they are not going to apply the same rules of the organization to our country, as we - to the States (every member of the organization has similar right under the 13th article of the Marrakesh Agreement on "non-use of multilateral trade agreements between individual Member States WTO")?
United States declared on the application of the 13th article of the Marrakesh Agreement due to the Jackson-Vanik amendment which is still in force in respect of Russia. The decision by Moscow was a response to the statement of the progress States. De facto they do not apply the amendment, but it is not repealed legally and remains a leverage of political pressure on economic relations between the countries. According to the U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Philip Gordon, in the coming months, the administration expects to work with Congress to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment. If the repeal happens prior to ratification of WTO protocol by Russia, the two countries would establish full trade relations.