For years, Russia, which maintains the world's ninth largest economy, was one of the biggest economic powerhouses to not belong to the World Trade Organization. In August, the nation will become the 156th member.
The Kremlin Press Office confirmed Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill ratifying the country’s accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). For 18 years, economists argued that the country needed to join the trade group because of its stance in the global economy.
Putin signed it into law Saturday and they must notify the WTO that they have accepted the accession to the organization. Membership into the group comes 30 days later. Although it is expected Russia will become the official 156th member on Aug. 22, it could be as early as Aug. 20 depending on when the Kremlin officially notifies the WTO Secretariat.
Canadian International Trade Minister Ed Fast was the first to congratulate Russia’s ratification.
“Russia’s accession to the WTO is another milestone in the country’s history and an important development for the WTO,” stated Fast in a written statement. “As one of the world’s largest economies, Russia must be part of our efforts to liberalize global trade and fight protectionism at the WTO. Canada will benefit from the market access provisions in both goods and services that Russia will commit to as part of its WTO obligations.”
The Eastern European nation has a $1.7 trillion economy, but World Bank experts say the move to the WTO could give the country a 3.3 percent ($49 billion) boost to its GDP in the first three years of membership. In the next decade, it could rise to as high as 11 percent.
Nations not members of the WTO include Algeria, Belarus, Iran, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Syria and others.
According to The Nation, the Russian leader also signed a bill that would label non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as “foreign agents” if they receive foreign funding. These NGOs will now be forced to make public their income and management and receive official checks on management, accounting and income structures.