BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/35

Afteryears of negotiations, Russia became a WTO member in August 2012. Even if membership and free trade were largely seen in Russia to threaten domestic producers, Russia was not willing to remain outside the global organisation. In its first five years of membership, Russia has largely kept to its WTO commitments, but introduced other barriers to foreign trade to protect the most sensitive branches.

Soon after Russia's WTO accession, the country implemented e.g. an automobile recycling fee where only domestic producers are eligible of compensation, as well as restrictions on pork imports based on Russian veterinary and phytosanitary regulations. The WTO is still investigating the recycling fees, but the pork import restrictions have been deemed to violate WTO rules. Food imports to Russia are currently restricted mainly by Russian countersanctions. Russia has also introduced numerous measures that either restrict imports or favour domestic producers in public sector and state-enterprise procurements. Russia has not signed the WTO agreement on public procurements, but only committed to enter into talks on joining the agreement.

Russia's WTO membership terms commit it to gradually lowering its average import duties from 10 % to under 8 %. Most of the remaining duty reductions enter into force today (Sept. 1). Russia has also committed e.g. to opening up of some service branches to foreign firms, as well as restricting agricultural and industrial subsidies. During its membership, Russia has faced seven complaints against it for violation of the WTO framework, as well as filed six complaints of its own against other WTO members.