Monday, October 5, 2009
An article last week in the New York Times suggests that Russia's appetite for joining the World Trade Organization has evaporated. Russia is the most economically important country still outside the WTO, and it has been pursuing membership now for 16 years. In 2004, it entered into a trade agreement with the European Union that was to have helped pave the way for Russia to be admitted to membership. But the New York Times story reports that Pascal Lamy, head of the WTO, said that Russia seems less interested today in joining the WTO. Lamy pointed to a possible application by Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan as a customs union -- something for which there is no precedent in the WTO. Membership in WTO would help Russia diversify its economy away from oil exports.