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Russia Moves Toward WTO


Pascal Lamy, left, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) hands over a t-shirt with a logo saying ' Welcome to the WTO...finally!' to Maxim Medvedkov, the Chief WTO negotiator for the Russian Federation in Geneva, Switzerland, November 10,

Russia has successfully completed negotiations on the terms and conditions for membership in the World Trade Organization.

Russia has successfully completed negotiations on the terms and conditions for membership in the World Trade Organization. This is the last step before WTO ministers approve these terms and invite Russia to become a WTO member at the ministerial conference in December. This is a significant milestone for U.S.-Russia relations, said President Barack Obama, "and for our commitment to a growing rule-based global economy."

As the only G20 economy currently outside the WTO, Russia, for the first time, will benefit from the WTO rules that underlie open, free, transparent and fair global economic competition. Predictable tariff rates and an enforceable dispute resolution mechanism will give Russia and its partners more certainty, and encourage the kind of commerce that creates new jobs and opportunities for ordinary Russians. Moreover, WTO membership will help spur Russia’s economy, which is expected to see annual average real growth of 4 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Russia’s membership in the WTO will also benefit other WTO trading partners, including Georgia. Russia and Georgia finally signed an agreement earlier in November, clearing the way for Russia to join the WTO. Under the terms of the agreement, international observers will be deployed to monitor the movement of goods across sections of Russia's borders with the separatist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

President Obama announced that he would now work with Congress to end the application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia in order to ensure that American firms and American exporters will enjoy the same benefits of Russian WTO membership as their international competitors. The amendment denies most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restrict emigration.

This step would mark a win for both the Russian people and the American people. It will spur trade and make Russia a full-fledged partner in the international trading system governed by the WTO.

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