WTO accession: “We overestimated good will”



Other states are not always observing their WTO commitments, too. Why then so much fuss is there in the Russian case, asks Russia 's representative at talks Maxim Medvedkov.

Question: Maxim Yurievich, Russia had applied for its WTO membership 14 years ago. You have been personally conducting negotiations with other countries about the conditions of accession to the WTO for seven years. Have you expected yourself that this process would drag for so long?

Answer: No. When I took charge of the negotiations on the Russian side in 2000, I believed that the issue would be settled in three years at the latest. On the one hand, we had underestimated the number of laws that we had had to amend prior to the WTO accession and the amount of time that would be needed to carry this out. On the other hand, we overestimated the goodwill of our partners in talks. Had at least half of the political promises given to us been fulfilled, we would have been part of the WTO long time ago.

Question: You are talking about the American promises to lift trade sanctions…

Answer: This is just one typical example. There are some others too, with an almost satirical flavour to them. One country demanded that we lift an import duty on refrigerators, although it was not producing any refrigerators itself. When we asked for clarifications, we were told that they had an investor who might eventually want to produce refrigerators. It took four years for this country to understand the absurdity of its own claim.