WTO Approves Russian Accession Bid

On December 21, 2011, in World Trade Organization News, by Maggie Ernst

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally approved on December 16 Russia’s terms for membership in the organization during a three-day meeting of the WTO’s ministerial conference in Geneva. Russia will take its seat at the WTO 30 days after notifying the organization that the Russian Duma has ratified the membership terms.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told reporters that he anticipated the accession agreement being sent to the Duma in May at the latest but denied reports that the delay was because of the Russian presidential election in March.

For U.S. companies to benefit from Russia’s accession, it will be necessary for Congress to lift the Jackson-Vanik amendment with respect to Russia and authorize the president to extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia.  Jackson-Vanik requires Russia and seven other former Soviet states to comply with free emigration policies before enjoying normal trade relations with the United States.

United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk said in a statement that the Obama administration would “work vigorously” with Congress to enact legislation granting PNTR to Russia.

According to a summary of the agriculture agreement for Russian accession released by USTR, Russia will maintain a 250,000 ton tariff rate quota for chicken halves and leg quarters with an in-quota tariff rate of 25 percent.

In addition, Russia has committed to applying the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, limiting its ability to impose arbitrary measures that have impeded trade in the past.

USTR’s paper, “How Russia’s Accession to the World Trade Organization Improves Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and How They are Applied in the Russian Federation,” is available here.

The National Chicken Council will continue to work with USTR, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Congress to help ensure the negotiated access for our products to Russia.