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Russian lower house approves protocol on WTO accession

(Xinhua)

09:07, July 11, 2012

MOSCOW, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Russia's State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, voted Tuesday to ratify a protocol on the country's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The bill was favored by 238 deputies, mainly of the ruling United Russia party, opposed by 208, from the opposition factions, with one abstention, according to local reports.

In light of the Russian law, the country will officially become a member of the WTO 30 days after the State Duma's approval.

In December 2011, the WTO decided to give its final approval for Russia's membership, ushering in the last major economy outside the trade club.

Russia's WTO accession has triggered heated debates in the country, though it has been seeking for entering the organization for more than 18 years.

The opposition claims that the accession would affect sectors of domestic economy, and even undermine the national sovereignty and security.

After the WTO accession, Russia will have to gradually lower its average tariff ceiling to 7.8 percent from the current 10 percent, with the agricultural tariff down from 13.2 percent to 10. 8 percent, while tariff for industrial products will slip from 9.5 percent to 7.3 percent.

Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov said Tuesday that Russia may lose budget revenues in 2013 and 2014 due to the WTO accession, respectively 188 billion rubles (5.71 billion U.S. dollars) and 257 billion rubles (7.81 billion dollars).

However, he stressed that the real losses may be lower than expected due to increasing foreign trade brought by the accession.

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