Chapter 4: Russia, the Eurasian Customs Union and the WTO
On 10 July 2012 the Russian parliament voted to ratify Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This ended the rather anomalous absence of the world’s largest country from the regime governing global trade. Before accession, Russia was the only member of the G20 that was not a WTO member, and it possessed the largest economy in the world that was not a member. By joining the WTO, Russia committed to bringing its trade laws and practices into compli- ance with WTO rules. These commitments include: non-discriminatory treatment of imports of goods and services, binding tariff levels, ensuring transparency when implementing trade measures, limiting agriculture subsidies, enforcing intellectual property rights for foreign holders of such rights, and forgoing the use of local content requirements and other trade-related investment measures. In the future, Russia will, through WTO dispute settlement procedures, be accountable to other members for fulfilling its WTO commitments. Russia will also be in a position to hold other WTO partners accountable for adhering to WTO rules, thus minimizing discrimination against Russian producers on world markets. Russia will also have the opportunity to play an important role in shaping the development of the international trade regime. Russia’s road to accession, however, became complicated in October 2007 when Russia announced the formation of the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) with Belarus and Kazakhstan, both of whom were, and remain, outside the WTO. As a result, Russia’s accession was held up by the need to ensure that ECU rules were consistent with WTO rules.
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