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WTO membership benefits Russia, world

(Xinhua)

14:13, December 17, 2011

MOSCOW, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Russia, after 18 years of effort, finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday. The big step for Russia will benefit both the country's modernization and the global trade system.

The WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva gave the green light to the long-time "outsider," which had first applied for membership in June 1993 when the late President Boris Yeltsin was in office.

A permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a member of the Group of 8 leading countries, Russia was the last major economy to enter the global trade group.

To gain entry into the WTO, Russia had to overhaul its national laws to bring them into conformity with those of the trade organization. Russia also had to work out bilateral market-opening deals with all of the WTO member states and complete tough talks on automobiles, agriculture and telecommunications.

Most importantly, as WTO director general Pascal Lamy once said, Moscow had to convince itself of the advantages of membership in the trade group.

For a country that heavily relies on petroleum exports, "the benefits (of joining the WTO) were not that obvious until they took the strategic decision to diversify their economy," Lamy said.

Before joining, too, Russia worried that accession to the WTO might exert a huge impact on its light industry, agriculture, finance, insurance, car and aerospace manufacturing industries.

However, in an era of globalization, self-isolation can only lead to backwardness. A lack of open competition and interaction can't help a country, particularly one that strives for economic innovation and transformation, achieve economic growth.

Russia has recognized, though, that without free trade in goods, services, and technology, its economic modernization would remain an impossible mission.

Now, Russia becomes the 154th member of the trade group and has a seven-year period in which to adjust its economy and laws to WTO rules. Moscow expects that the accession will serve as a new starting point for economic development in Russia.

It is clear that Russia's industries now will face fierce competition in the international trade arena.

"The cost of production makes Russian goods and services uncompetitive. This is especially crucial for the car industry and agriculture," said Leonid Grigoriev, professor from Moscow' s High School of Economics.


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