Russia and the WTO: Accession Means Trade Barriers Lowered, IP Protections Raised, More…

“After 18 years of negotiations, on 16 December 2011, Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) accepted the terms of the Russian Federation’s accession. Russia will officially become a WTO Member 30 days following the ratification of its Protocol of Accession, which will take place before 15 June 2012.”

It took nearly 20 years, but Russia finally gained approval to join the World Trade Organization. For your reference, here’s a quick overview of what the federation’s WTO membership means for companies doing business with Russia, from international law firm King & Spalding:

Across industries:

 “Lower Import Tariffs, Fewer Subsidies and Reduced Export Duties: Russia’s trade regime will be governed by transparent and predictable rules, and tariffs will be reduced in many industrial sectors

Liberalization of Trade in Services: Within the framework of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), Russia made specific commitments in a great number of service sectors 

Improved Intellectual Property Protection: The protection of intellectual property will be reinforced 

Transparency Commitments: Russia has committed to publish all laws and regulations that affect trade in goods, services and intellectual property before they enter into force” (WTO Accession of the Russian Federation

In the chemicals sector:

“Quantitative restrictions on imports of goods, such as quotas, bans, permits, prior authorization requirements or other requirements or restrictions that cannot be justified under the WTO provisions will be removed upon Russia’s accession to the WTO.” (WTO Accession of the Russian Federation – Implications for the Chemicals Sector

In the pharmaceuticals sector:

“Importers of pharmaceuticals will no longer need specific import licenses. However, foreign legal persons intending to import pharmaceuticals, including veterinary drugs, into Russian territory will be required to register and hold a license to engage in the production or distribution of pharmaceuticals.” (WTO Accession of the Russian Federation – Implications for Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices

In the alcohol and tobacco products sector:

“Russia will continue to impose minimum prices on liquor products and other alcohol stronger than 28 per cent volume, including vodka, and will maintain its excise duties on alcohol and tobacco products. Russia has committed to apply minimum prices and excise duties in a non-discriminatory manner between domestically-produced and imported products.” (WTO Accession of the Russian Federation – Implications for Alcohol and Tobacco Sectors

Read additional legal updates and news by King & Spalding

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