WASHINGTON, August 22, 2012- Russia officially becomes the 156th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) today, 19 years after it first applied to the WTO in June 1993. WTO also announced today that Vanuatu will join on August 24 as its 157th member.

“Once again this year, we welcome two new members in the WTO family. It has been a long journey for both countries and they will undoubtedly strengthen the multilateral trading system”, said WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy.

“Both accessions show that joining the WTO remains high on the countries’ agendas since trade can bring a predictable and stable basis for economic growth,” Lamy said. “This is especially important as the world goes through troubled times and continues to suffer from one of the worst global economic crisis in memory.”

Russia committed to fully apply to all WTO provisions from the date of its accession. According to the WTO, on average, the Russian Federation will apply a final bound tariff for 7.8% for goods and has made specific commitments on 11 services sectors.

The U.S.-Russia Business Council issued a statement urging Congress to enact permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia in order to benefit from its requirements as a WTO member. USRBC President and CEO Ed Verona noted that Russia agreed to reforms developed in negotiations along with the United States.

"Ironically, without PNTR in place, our foreign competitors are better positioned than U.S. business is to secure contracts that will arise as Russia implements market reforms and modernizes its economy,” Verona said. “The clock is ticking against us. However, Congress can rectify this missed opportunity with passage of PNTR legislation when it returns in September."

The House indicated it will bring PNTR legislation to the floor in September, which includes a humanitarian provision known as the Magnitsky bill.   

Under WTO membership agreements, all of Russia’s agricultural export subsidies will be bound at zero and its trade distorting agricultural supports will be gradually reduced to $4.4 billion by 2018, according to the WTO. 

In a list documenting several provisions of Russia joining the WTO, the trade organization describes Russia’s tariff and quota commitments, as well as its agreements related to sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade. 

Russia agreed to lower its tariffs on a several products, stated the WTO document. Average duties after full implementation of tariff reductions will be:  14.9% for dairy products (current applied tariff 19.8%), 10.0% for cereals (current applied tariff 15.1%) and 7.1% for oilseeds, fats and oils (current applied tariff 9.0%), among others. 

The final bound rate will be implemented on the date of accession for more than one third of national tariff lines with another quarter of the tariff cuts to be put in place three years later. The longest implementation period is 8 years for pork. 

Tariff rate quotas (TRQs) would be applied to beef, pork, poultry and some whey products. Imports entering the market within the quota will face lower tariffs while higher duties will be applied to products imported outside the quota.

The in-quota and out of quota rates are listed below with the out of quota rates in parentheses:

  • For beef 15% (and 55%)
  • For pork zero (and 65%). The TRQ for pork will be replaced by a flat top rate of 25% as of 1 January 2020.
  • 25% (and 80%) for some selected poultry products
  • 10% (and 15%) for some whey products
  • Some of these quotas are also subject to member-specific allocation

For more on Russia's WTO agreements, go here. 

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