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Accession of the Russian Federation to the World Trade Organization: A New Player Joins the Trade Game

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To date, no country has taken longer to join the World Trade Organization than the Russian Federation despite the fact that the USSR (of which the Russian Federation is the legal successor) participated in the drafting conference of the Charter to the International Trade Organization, i.e., the original source of the rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the later WTO.While the USSR never joined the ITO, Russia finally joined the WTO in 2012, eighteen years after its first application had been made. The reasons for the lengthy accession process were partially economic, as the WTO was established to remove trade impediments; however, the context also was highly politicized. The economic aspects of the WTO accession process are the concessions made to existing members. These entail removing the cover offered to domestic producers by opening up to international competition. This process also has political aspects, as domestic lobbies representing economic sectors likely to suffer from an increasingly competitive international environment seek compensation. The politicization is facilitated by a custom contra legem in WTO decision-making procedures that gives a de facto veto to existing members. Georgia used this to reassert its position on South Osetiia and Abkhaziia. China brought a border dispute into the process, and the US entangled the process in a broad-ranging debate linked to human rights.In joining the WTO, a dual process of domestic and international negotiations results in the final package of commitments to which an acceding member needs to agree as it joins the WTO. Part of our focus in this article will be on key economic and political obligations that the Russian Federation took upon itself by becoming a member of the WTO.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Economic Law and Governance, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, and University of Westminster, England <vanderborghtkim@gmail.com>

10.1163/15730352-04003006
/content/journals/10.1163/15730352-04003006
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/content/journals/10.1163/15730352-04003006
2015-12-15
2017-12-14

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