In a significant foreign policy breakthrough, the Russian Duma voted last week to ratify the country's accession to the World Trade Organization, resolving an issue that had been a point of contention between Russia and the West since the 1990s. Russia's accession negotiations, which opened in 1995 and were completed in November 2011, were the longest and arguably the thorniest in WTO history. Economic and political disputes, not to mention the Russia-Georgia War of 2008, repeatedly delayed Russian accession. With Russia now set to formally enter the WTO in August, it is worth examining what the move will mean for the country’s internal politics and broader foreign policy.
In terms of concrete policy issues, little will change come August, at least initially. Russia will be required to reduce or remove a number of tariffs immediately upon accession, but Moscow succeeded in securing the right to phase in tariff reductions in key sectors, most importantly agriculture, the automotive industry and civil aviation. Agricultural and factory workers outside Moscow and St. Petersburg make up the base of President Vladimir Putin's support in the country, and protecting their jobs is a priority. It is no coincidence that deputies from the Communist and Just Russia parties used prospective job losses in these sectors to hammer the Kremlin during the Duma debate on accession. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
Sign up for two weeks of free access with your credit card. Cancel any time during the free trial and you will be charged nothing.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Global Insights: Nemtsov Killing Puts Human Rights in Spotlight of U.S.-Russia Tensions
- Diplomatic Fallout: At U.N., Russia Is Now the Indispensable Nation
- The Realist Prism: With Cease-Fire, Ukraine Remains Stuck Between Russia and the West
- Global Insights: Ukraine Deal Could Buy U.S. Time to Formulate Effective Russia Policy
- Global Insights: Russia and the West’s Diverging World Views on Display at Munich