Policy Memos

Russia and the World Trade Organization

Policy Memo:


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Since 1993 Russia has been negotiating to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), which with 144 members is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing clubs. With the successful conclusion of the GATT’s Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, the cost of exclusion from the international trade regime rose, but so did the bar for countries seeking to join. The WTO now includes extensive rules on agriculture, public procurement, intellectual property rights (TRIPS), trade-related investment restrictions (TRIMS), and the service sector (GATS), which were areas traditionally ceded to domestic control. Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania joined the GATT, the predecessor to the WTO, during the Cold War under much more lenient conditions. Other countries have joined after meeting more arduous tests of market openness: Moldova and Lithuania joined last May, and China joined in November. Until September 11, every indication was that Russia would be held to this higher standard. However, in return for President Vladimir Putin’s strong support for the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan, and as part of an informal package of emerging policy compromises, the Bush administration has signaled a commitment to try to accelerate Russia’s entry into the WTO. [...]

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About the author

Professor, Director of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, Director of the Peter D. Watson Center for Conflict and Cooperation, Department of Political Science
University of Rochester