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Putin Backs Ratification Of WTO Commitments This Year

by Tatiana Smolenskaya, Tax-News.com, Moscow

14 May 2012


Russia's new President, Vladimir Putin has dismissed calls to delay the nation's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Putin stated that a delay of even a year or two would be tantamount to a statement of refusal from Russia to join the global trade body, after what has been a fractious 17-year process.

The comments were in response to concerns about the impact Russian membership would have on Russia's domestic industries, after the nation agreed to substantially ease trade tariffs in its accession package.

On average, the final legally-binding tariff ceiling for the Russian Federation will be 7.8% compared with a 2011 average of 10% for all products. The average tariff ceiling will be 10.8% for agriculture products (13.2% currently) and 7.3% for manufactured goods (9.5% currently).

Putin underscored that if Russia's parliament ratifies the deal by June 15, 2012, as anticipated, the country would have a substantial gap, typically five to seven years, to prepare for the tariff and regulatory changes. He added that membership would not limit Russia's ability to protect its interests internationally.

On the Customs Union with ex-Soviet states, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Putin underscored that relations with the bloc remain a 'top priority' for the nation. Putin reassured the nations that Russia's WTO membership would not damage the strength of the Union, despite earlier concerns.

The Custom Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus was created on January 1, 2010. All customs borders were removed between the three countries on July 1, 2011, and a single economic space became operational on January 1, 2012. As part of its accession package, Russia has agreed to publish any Customs Union legislation before adoption and provide a reasonable period of time for WTO members and all stakeholders to comment to the competent Custom Union body.

TAGS: Russia | tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | export duty | interest | fiscal policy | law | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | legislation | trade disputes | Belarus | Kazakhstan | import duty | trade | free trade zone

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