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Russia to become newest member of the World Trade Organization

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 18th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Russia will become the newest member of the World Trade Organization. The recent addition will give a critical boost to the ailing economy of Russia's biggest trading partner, the European Union. Russia until this week had been the only member of the Group of 20 leading world economies still outside the WTO, the global body that sets legally binding rules for international trade and mediates disputes.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The deal is expected to quickly increase EU exports by some $5.2 billion a year, EU trade officials say. Russians under the agreement will be able to buy European-made goods at far lower prices and to sell its oil and gas more efficiently.

"The ministerial conference so agrees," Olusegun Aganga, Nigeria's Trade Minister, who is chair of the eighth WTO ministerial conference, says. The decision was taken mid-way during the three-day meeting in Geneva.

The Russian parliament will have up to June 15 next year to ratify the accord and bring it into force.

The 27-nation EU bloc is Russia's biggest trading partner for agriculture, fuels, mining and manufacturing. In addition, he EU buys 52 percent of Russia's exports, including the fossil fuels. Russia, in turn, is third-biggest customer for EU exports, after the U.S. and China.

Russia's Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina hailed the deal and said Russia is ready to help counter the risks of the global economic slowdown.

"We are ready to counter these risks actively," she told WTO trade ministers, just after their decision to welcome Russia.

The agreement is also likely to provide a boost for Russia's heavily state-managed economy, trade experts say. The agreement brings Russia under international trade rules that could give outside investors more confidence.

"The EU has high expectations of Russia as a responsible partner able to respect rules," EU trade chief Karel De Gucht told the WTO.

Moscow will provide annual reports to other members on its continuing privatization and gradually lower its average tariff ceiling to 7.8 percent from its current 10 percent.

A final hurdle to joining the WTO was the deal Russia signed with Georgia, its neighbor with whom it waged a brief war in 2008, to allow a neutral company to monitor all trade between the two nations.

Russia would become a WTO member next year, 30 days after it notifies WTO that the Russian Duma has ratified membership.

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