The WTO expands further, but has its influence
It literally was a long time coming. After 18 years, the World Trade Organization (WTO) officially welcomed Russia into its fold last week boosting its membership to 154 countries.
While received as a positive development, the question remains whether the inclusion of Russia in the trade organization will have any impact on the nation’s respect for global trade laws – or its treatment of the Russian populace.
“While there will be some economic gains from the lowering of trade barriers, the reality is that Russian markets have already realized most of the gains that are to be had because Russia has done exceptionally little to increase market access and lower substantive barriers to trade,” writes Daniel Hanson, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Hanson argues that for the WTO to achieve success in opening Russia’s markets to the world will be a result of bilateral talks, not among the larger WTO membership.
In terms of affecting political change in Russia, that will be a much more difficult challenge for the international community. As The Economist noted earlier this week, China serves as an example of the limited impact the WTO has had.