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US Sees Gaps in Russian Compliance With WTO Membership Commitments

Russia needs to make greater efforts to ensure full implementation of its World Trade Organization (WTO) membership commitments, with various restrictions on agricultural and industrial imports and “weak” intellectual property rights enforcement raising concerns, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said Dec. 20. In its first annual report to Congress on Russia's efforts to comply with its accession commitments (link to report), USTR said Russia “has taken many important steps to implement all of its WTO commitments in most areas, but at the same time, there are several areas where more progress is needed.” Russia adopted, amended or modified over 500 measures in an effort to bring its legal regime governing international trade into conformity with the WTO rules. As a result, USTR noted, by the time Russia became a WTO member on August 22, 2012, it had in place the legislative framework to achieve compliance with its WTO obligations. Nevertheless, “Changing its laws does not guarantee Russia's WTO compliance or ensure that US workers and businesses will realize the full benefits of Russia's WTO membership,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said. “Actual implementation is what counts.” USTR noted that Russia reduced import tariffs as required upon joining the WTO, and again one year after accession. And, Russia completed the process to join the WTO's Information Technology Agreement, which obliges participants to eliminate tariffs on some 180 high-tech goods.

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