Russia’s Highest Court Clears WTO Accession

Russia’s Constitutional Court has ruled legitimate the country’s WTO accession protocol following a challenge by the opposition, the Court said in a statement on Monday.

“The protocol on Russia’s accession to the WTO has been acknowledged as compliant with the Constitution both in terms of the adoption procedure at the stage of its signing and approval by the Russian government and the substance of its separate provisions,” Constitutional Court head Valery Zorkin said when delivering the court’s judgment.

Zorkin said the court’s judgment may not be appealed against, and is effective immediately.

Russia signed a protocol on accession to the world trade club on December 16, 2011. Russia has to complete the ratification process by July 23 to avoid the need to renegotiate the entire agreement.

Article 125 of Russia’s Fundamental Law authorizes the Constitutional Court to examine the constitutionality of the country’s international treaties that have not yet come into force.

In late June, a group of 131 deputies from the opposition Communist and A Just Russia parties challenged the constitutionality of the WTO accession protocol, claiming the procedure for submitting it to the lower house of parliament for ratification had been breached.

The Russian opposition has claimed on many occasions that Russia’s accession to the WTO was detrimental to Russia’s national sovereignty and security and could ruin whole sectors of the domestic economy.

“Our country is totally unprepared for WTO entry and is doing so on unfavorable terms,” Communist leader Zyuganov wrote in mid-June in an official letter to the government urging rejection of the protocol.

“We receive assurances that Russian goods and services are ready to penetrate onto world markets, but nobody tells us which ones. The main sectors of the economy are in no shape to compete on foreign markets and other industries do not make products that are in demand,” Zyuganov wrote.

WTO membership could threaten the existence of aircraft manufacturing in Russia, where foreign aircraft already account for 80 percent of the civil aviation fleet, he claimed.

The WTO is also a threat to small and medium-sized businesses, because “most Russian companies, not to mention small enterprises, are not competitive, even on the domestic market,” and cannot survive “without strong state support,” Zyuganov said.


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