By Ria Novosti
Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, will hold hearings on Wednesday on the ratification of a protocol on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Russia signed the document on December 16, 2011 after 18 years of talks with the world trade club and has to complete the ratification process by July 23 to avoid the need to renegotiate the entire agreement.
Federation Council’s speaker Valentina Matvienko has told RIA Novosti that the senators would most likely approve the protocol because “they realize the importance and the necessity of this step” as it would certainly help modernize the domestic economy.
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, voted on July 10 to ratify the protocol despite protests by opposition claiming that the accession to the WTO was detrimental to Russia’s national sovereignty and security and could ruin whole sectors of the domestic economy.
In late June, a group of 131 lawmakers from the opposition Communist and A Just Russia parties challenged the constitutionality of the WTO accession protocol, claiming the procedure for submitting it to the lower house of parliament for ratification had been breached.
However, Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled on July 9 the country’s WTO accession protocol legitimate.
In his final report as prime minister to the State Duma in April, incumbent President Vladimir Putin said some Russian producers may suffer in the short-term from Russia’s entry in the WTO but the Russian government is looking for tools to protect key sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, automotive industry, and textile industry.
The WTO is an organization that intends to regulate and liberalize international trade. Its 155 member-countries account for 95% of global trade. Russia will officially become the WTO’s 156th member 30 days after ratification.