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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Russia and WTO: Almost Incorporated? - 24 October, 2002

It remains only to regulate Russia’s “natural” advantages
It is amazing but when something extraordinary happens (hostage taking of several hundred theatergoers in Moscow, for instance), and here your are, the problems which seemed unsolvable before, start realizing in a very easy manner. Today member of the European Commission Pascal Lamy, who has come to Moscow to negotiate Russia’s incorporation into the WTO, told the leadership of the Russian Union of Businessmen and Industrialist sthat Russia’s membership in the international organization was a practically settled problem. Russian businessmen must be happy because of it indeed. In Lamy’s words, there are just two basic problems which must be settled for this. What are they?

Pascal Lamy says that Russia’s domestic prices for energy resources must be equated to the world prices and access to the domestic market of services must be liberalized for foreign companies. It is to be mentioned here that President Putin has personally refused to equate the prices; and the Russian business elite won’t let foreigners have a free access to the market of services. And the business elite exerts great pressure upon the Russian authorities concerning this problem.

After the meeting with the European Commission representative, Director General of the Severstal metallurgical company, Alexey Mordashov, said that a compromise with the WTO must include three problems: prices for energy resources, protection of several economy sectors and asses to the market of services.

That is why, as concerning the first item, the Russian Union of Businessmen and Industrialists suggests that the WTO’s demand on leveling the domestic and the world prices for energy resources by the means of state regulation instruments should be turned down. Especially, that the problem has been already turned down by the Russia President. Alexey Mordashov thinks that instead of it Russia can assume the obligation to reform the energy sector with a view of its liberalization. It will be easy to carry out the obligation as the Russian parliament is to pass the laws on the energy reform very soon.

As for other issues, the positions of Russia and the WTO don’t differ drastically. Russia suggests that some sectors of the Russian economy should be protected from the Western competition for a transition period of 8-10 years. The WTO seems to be not so strictly objecting to the idea. And the idea of the market of services liberalization is practically welcomed in the country now. So, will Russia enter the WTO?

Kira Poznakhirko
PRAVDA.Ru