Next U.S. blow against Russia to be dealt at WTO

Next U.S. blow against Russia to be dealt at WTO

The Unites States is ready to use the tools of the WTO to open the Russian market for its exports, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in the report assessing Russia’s implementation of its respective World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.

According to the document, the U.S. closely reviews Russia's compliance with WTO commitments.

"Russia’s accelerating withdrawal from the market-opening rules of the WTO raises barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services... If the United States finds that Russia is not acting consistent with its WTO commitments, it will investigate and use all appropriate means to resolve the matter and keep Russia’s markets open to U.S. exports," the report says.

The document noted that Washington's bilateral dialogue with Russia has been put on hold due to the situation in Ukraine. The authors of the report also believes that meeting requests from the U.S. Embassy to the Russian side often are not granted.  

The report stressed that last year, notwithstanding a few actions taken to comply with its WTO commitments, Russia continued to pursue a regime of import substitution and local content requirements. According to the authors of the report, in response, the U.S. will continue to remind Russia of its WTO commitments.   

The document states that importing into Russia remains a difficult task, condemning its rules for localizing production, taxes, fees and phytosanitary control practices.

The report says that the U.S. will continue to analyze Russia’s export regulatory regime to ensure its consistency with WTO disciplines, and will pursue "enforcement actions" as appropriate. 

Chief researcher at the Institute of International Economic Relations Studies of the Financial University under the Russian government Valery Abramov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the United States first began to violate WTO rules regarding Russia. "Russia has imposed restrictions on the import of certain goods in response to economic sanctions, including on export of certain goods from Russia. In order to put pressure on Russia through the WTO in the current conditions, the United States will have to find a weighty reason, but there are no sufficient legal grounds for this, especially since trade between the United States and the Russian Federation is not significant," he said.

"The only thing they can do is to impose restrictions on the export of software products supplied with equipment by leading companies. The share of these goods in the Russian-U.S. turnover is large, and it will take time for Russian producers to create analogues. In addition, these are aerospace software, satellite related software. But this is outside the scope of the WTO. The U.S. may initiate trade disputes in the WTO regarding Russia's restrictions on certain goods - but the volume of these goods is not so large, the procedure of trade disputes assumes that the sums from restrictive measures should amount to billions of dollars," Valery Abramov stressed.

The expert stressed that a more strenuous effort needs to be made by Russia to defend its interests in the WTO. "In fact, Russia's accession to the WTO was not of economic nature, it was political. It does not make sense to leave the WTO after we spent 18 years to enter it. Russia needs to learn how to defend its national interests, using the WTO norms and rules," the chief researcher at the Institute of International Economic Relations Studies of the Financial University under the Russian government concluded.

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