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Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition
Prospects for Russia’s membership in the WTO now look better than any point since accession negotiations began almost a decade ago. Good progress with economic and legal reforms within Russia has left the country’s economy better prepared for membership. Nevertheless, the economy still suffers from various weaknesses including, but not limited to, pervasive subsidies for different sectors, lack of liberalization and foreign participation especially in the service sector, inefficiency in custom administration, lack of enforcement of intellectual property rights, etc. For all their sensitivity, the negotiations on the import tariff levels and access to the service sectors are the least of the problems. Much more difficult will be non-tariff barriers and the general trade-related legislative framework. Resolving the remaining weaknesses would be a complex process. However, given the importance of WTO-related measures for the overall domestic structural reform, any delay in accession would be at least marginally negative for investor perceptions of country risk.