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Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization

Published on November 15, 2011
Communiqué issued by the Ministry for the Economy, Finance and Industry

Paris, November 10, 2011

Russia’s forthcoming accession to the WTO, after 17 years of negotiations, is a result we must welcome, especially in this period of protectionist instincts.

Russia’s accession strengthens the universality of the WTO’s multilateral rules. This result, strongly backed by France, will greatly contribute to strengthening our trade and present new commercial opportunities for our companies.

Russia – the European Union’s third-largest trading partner after China and the United States – was the last great economy and the only G20 country not yet to be a member of the WTO. Russia accounts for some 9% of European exports, and nearly half of Russian imports come from the European Union. In 10 years, French exports bound for Russia have increased almost fourfold, reaching just over €6 billion in 2010.

In the agricultural sphere, the agreement on veterinary issues and the reduction in customs tariffs will, for example, enable us to increase our exports of meat (beef, poultry and pork) to Russia. It has also been possible to overcome market access problems for wines and spirits and protect our appellations d’origine [guarantees of origin]. The sale of our agri-foodstuffs and pharmaceutical products in Russia will be made easier and increase, particularly through enhanced protection of intellectual property rights.

The reduction in Russian customs tariffs will also present new industrial opportunities. French investments in the automotive industry in Russia will be protected, enabling French-based subcontractors in the industry to maintain a steady flow of spare parts sales to Russia. We must be aware that, in the coming years, the Russian market is set to be the main market on the continent, ahead of Germany (3.5 million vehicles a year in 2015).

Concurrently with the negotiations, Russia pledged to end Siberian overflight charges, which she applies to European airlines in a discriminatory manner and whose cost is estimated at €500 million a year, including €80 million for Air France.

Finally, in more general terms, Russia’s accession to the WTO will contribute to improving the business climate and will encourage investment, by providing our operators with a stable and transparent legal framework. It will now be possible to resolve any potential trade disputes with that country through the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body./.

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