Experts Encouraged to Take Advantage of Russia’s Accession to the WTO

An international conference “Russia in the World Trade Organization: New Tools to Protect Business” took place at the World Trade Centre in Moscow on October 24, 2012. The conference was held by ICC Russia  and law firm Muranov Chernyakov & Partners.

Russia acceded to the WTO on August 22, 2012. The accession was preceded by the relevant decree of the Constitutional Court. A group of 131 deputies of the Russian State Duma filed a request with the Constitutional Court in June 2012 to consider the issue of whether or not the ratification of the protocol on Russia’s accession to the WTO complied with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

In addition, the court assessed the constitutionality of the commitments undertaken by Russia in regard to WTO membership. The court found that both the procedure and the commitments were in line with the Russian Constitution.

The key subjects of the reports included the mechanisms for the legal protection of Russian producers’ interests within the WTO framework. The speakers also discussed the impact of the current political environment on the scope of Russia’s commitments to the WTO.

Representatives of the State Duma of the Russian Federation – Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture Nikolai Pankov and the First Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation, Development and Entrepreneurship Anatoliy Karpov – took part in the conference. They covered in their reports various aspects of Russia’s accession to the WTO, as well as its consequences for Russia’s foreign trade and investment regime and potential next steps to be taken by Russian exporters as a result. Also one of the speakers was the Head of the WTO Department of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Mikhail Cherekaev. Representatives of the legal, business and industry expert communities of Russia, Ukraine, USA and Switzerland had their say in the discussion as well.

The managing partner of law firm Muranov Chernyakov & Partners Alexander Muranov analysed Russia’s commitments to the WTO in the services sector. The speaker referred to the www.Russia-WTO.ru project launched in the spring of 2012 in order to clarify Russia’s commitments to the WTO in the goods and services sphere.

He noted that over 50% of the commitments were taken in service sectors related to various types of transport, insurance, banking and other financial services, as well as telecommunications and distribution. His report also touched upon the key commitments in terms of their potential influence on various services’ markets in Russia. He demonstrated that Russian negotiators had not sufficiently taken into consideration the legal and economic prerequisites for the determination of the scope of Russia’s commitments to the WTO.

Senior associate of Muranov Chernyakov & Partners, Liudmila Baleevskikh, gave a thorough analysis of Russia’s commitments to the WTO in the insurance-related services sector. She specifically stressed the possibility of opening branches of foreign insurance companies nine years after Russia’s accession to the WTO, i.e. in 2021.

Partner of Muranov Chernyakov & Partners, Dmitry Chernyy, reported on new issues in the Russian legal framework resulting from its membership in the Customs Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan, the WTO and the European-Asiatic Economic Community (EurAsEC). He also spoke about possible legal and judicial tools for the protection of Russian producers in these organisations.

Senior lecturer of City Law School, City University, London David Collins provided a general overview of the dispute resolution mechanism in the WTO.

Senior lawyer of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners Sergey Usoskin reported on dispute resolution in the WTO related to antidumping and compensatory duties and subsidies. He touched upon the specific features of the procedure used by competent bodies to consider such issues as well as available remedies.

Senior lawyer of the Advisory Center on WTO Law Fernando Pierola reported on the possibilities Russian companies have to protect their interests. The speaker mentioned that in the end much depends on the active position of Russian companies themselves, ie whether they would be able to persuade the Government to trigger the WTO dispute settlement mechanisms to protect national exporters.

Russian accession to the WTO creates both new challenges and new interesting opportunities for dispute resolution involving Russia and Russian businesses. Quite possibly some disputes involving Russia will be initiated and settled through WTO procedures in the near future.

Dmitry Davydenko, Daniya Zaynullina

About the Author:

Dr Davydenko is the Director and co-editor of the CIS Arbitration Forum. He is Vice Chairman of the Panel of Mediators at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and advises Russian and international clients on international business law matters. He is listed as a recommended arbitrator of International Commercial Arbitration Court and Maritime Arbitration Commission at Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as some other arbitral institutions.

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