The Protocol on Russia’s Accession to the WTO Has Been Ratified

Despite the resistance by the system opposition, the State Duma approved the protocol on Russia’s Accession to the WTO on July 10, 2012. With individual voting, ratification of the protocol was supported only by deputies of the United Russia faction. Representatives of all the opposition factions voted against it. The document was approved with 238 votes for, 208 votes against and one vote abstained.

The opposition in the State Duma tried to obstruct the discussion of the protocol on accession to the WTO by sending a query to the Constitutional Court about the compliance of the document in question with Russia’s main law. In the query sent to the Constitutional Court by 130 deputies from the CPRF, LDPR and Just Russia party, it was stated that the Protocol on Russia’s accession to the WTO did not comply with Articles 48, 62, 68, 72, 101 and 118 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation. According to applicants, in submission of the Protocol on Russia’s Accession to the WTO a constitutional procedure was violated (the established procedure for submission of the document for ratification was not complied with, nor was the Protocol approved by constituent entities of the Russian Federation). Also, individual annexes to the Protocol on Accession to the WTO were disputed.

On July 9, 2012, the Constitutional Court recognized that the Protocol on Russia’s Accession to the WTO did not contradict the Constitution either as regards the procedure for adoption at the stage of signature and approval by the Government of the Russian Federation, or the content of the Protocol’s individual provisions.  It is to be noted that judges of the Constitutional Court stressed that they reviewed the Protocol from the point of view of the law and did not assess its feasibility in political and economic terms. The Court declared that observance of interests of Russia and its citizens proceeding from that point of view is the competence of the President, Government and other legislative and executive authorities.

As a members-state of the WTO, Russia assumes obligations under the Marrakesh Agreement on Establishment of the WTO. Transition periods of liberalization of access to the market amount to 2-3 years, while those as regards the most sensitive goods, to 5-7 years. In 2013, the average level of tariff protection will go down from 9.5% to 7.4%, in 2014, to 6.9% and in 2015, to 6%. The customs tariff will be reduced on average by 3.5 points.

Upon ratification of the Protocol, it is necessary to notify the Secretariat of the WTO to that effect and in a month Russia will officially join that organization.

Until October 1, 2012, the State Duma is to be presented the strategy of actions by federal executive authorities as regards protection of national interests of the Russian Federation in the WTO, as well as the plan of development and passing of federal laws and regulatory statutory acts of the Government of the Russian Federation and federal executive authorities in connection with ratification of the Protocol. Until January 1, 2013, the government is advised to submit to the State Duma the information on implementation of such  measures aimed at adapting оf the economy of the Russian Federation to new economic conditions as were developed on the basis of proposals of sectorial units and associations, the working group on legislative  securing of Russia’s accession to the WTO established under the State Duma’s Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation Development and Entrepreneurship and federal executive authorities.

N.P. Volovik, Head of the Foreign Trade Department