U.S.-Russian relations have improved significantly in the last two and a half years. "The challenge today," said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, "is to find new ways to propel and organize our relationship to widen the arc of our cooperation. Nowhere is that task more important than in deepening our economic ties."
Two-way trade flows with Russia grew last year, but still they reached just $31 billion – less than one percent of the United States' total trade. Russia is the world's seventh-largest economy, but it is America's 37th largest export market. Today Russia is the only member of the G-20 that has not joined the World Trade Organization, or WTO.
Russian membership in the WTO would give it a greater stake in the success of the global economy and in the rules of open, free, transparent and fair competition. It would also create new markets for American exporters in one of the world's fastest growing markets.
Russia has missed a number of opportunities to achieve accession to the WTO over the last 18 years, but now is the time, said Deputy Secretary Burns, with strong American support, to finally join. World Bank economists have estimated that gains to Russia from eliminating barriers to the establishment of foreign service firms could reach 3.7 percent of gross domestic product.
To attract more foreign investment needed to diversify its economy, Russia must also provide both foreign and domestic firms with a level playing field, including better legal protections and transparent, predictable rules.
Russia's ratification of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's anti-bribery convention will be a step in the right direction, said Deputy Secretary Burns, and the United States welcomes proposed reforms that would protect Russian whistleblowers who expose corruption. These steps would send strong signal to investors about Russia's commitment to rule of law.
"It remains deeply in the interest of the United States," said Deputy Secretary Burns, "to see a strong Russia continue to re-emerge, a peaceful, prosperous and modernizing Russia fully integrated into the global economy, a Russia which respects the rights of its citizens and realizes its extraordinary potential."