The Russian government has beefed up its long-standing application for membership of the World Trade Organization by submitting to WTO headquarters in Geneva a list of nearly ten thousand imported goods on which the government says it is prepared to cut import duties. This still does not mean that Russia is likely to be admitted quickly.
The government also sent along a list of five hundred items it wants to exclude from tariff cuts; these include oil, gas and ferrous and nonferrous metals. Furthermore, Russia submitted a list of consumer items, including agricultural products, on which it hopes the WTO will allow it to raise import tariffs should the need arise. The WTO will not be enthusiastic about the last two lists, but its officials are said to be impressed by the fact that Russian trade officials have coordinated all the items on the first list with the relevant Moscow ministries. Often, officials were quoted as saying, a trade ministry will submit a list, only for it later to be stymied by political infighting inside its own government. In Russia’s case, infighting was such that the list of ten thousand goods has only just been released after sitting on Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin’s desk since last November. (BBC "World Business Report," February 17)
Russia, China Renew Ties.