This week could see the end of Russia’s arduous 18-year quest for membership of the World Trade Organization. A commission in Geneva is set to clear away the final obstacles to Moscow’s long awaited accession to the global trade body.
On Wednesday, Russia and Georgia finally reached a deal on regulating customs on the borders with newly-independent South Ossetia and Abkhazia. An agreement signed in Geneva allows Tbilisi to use a private company to monitor all cross-border trade between Russia, Georgia, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which broke away from Georgia following a war in 2008. So the final objections to Russia joining the WTO from Georgia have been dealt with.
There are always chances of a last-minute derailment, but analysts say it is unlikely.
The package of documents on Russia’s accession to the WTO could be approved by a working group on Thursday or Friday, with membership formalized in December.
Russia’s accession will be the biggest step towards liberalizing trade around the world since China joined the WTO exactly 10 years ago, on November 10 2001.
Analysts say that any clear indication of the deal could boost the Russian stock market by five per cent, providing welcome relief from the ongoing eurozone uncertainty.
The World Bank says WTO entry could boost the Russian economy by more than three per cent in the medium term and 11 per cent in the long term.