Russia-WTO: Progress but Not Ready for Accession

Ariel Cohen /

On Friday the Kremlin announced that Russia and the U.S. settled all outstanding bilateral issues relating to Russia’s accession to the WTO. “I can say that the United States has removed all the questions regarding Russia joining the WTO,” Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said, assuring the press that Russia will settle all outstanding issues regarding its accession to the global trade organization within four months at the most.

Later the same day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke on the phone. According to the White House, Obama believes that Russia had taken “significant steps” toward joining the WTO.

However, don’t be surprised if this scenario feels a little like déjà vu. In June 2009, at the World Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, President Medvedev, Finance Minister Kudrin, and Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina, together with the Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, also said that Russia was about to enter WTO. Yet, two weeks later, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that Russia wouldn’t join the international organization without its Custom Union counterparts Belorussia and Kazakhstan. (more…)