A decades long wait for membership of the World Trade Organisation ends for Russia, though the organisation's chief says excited comparisons with China may have to be tempered. Joel Flynn reports.
It's a club they've waited almost two decades to join. On Wednesday Russia finally became part of the World Trade Organisation. But with the world economy battling stagnant growth, the benefits might not be as swift as they were for China in 2001. WTO chief Pascal Lamy said the comparisons with China were difficult. (SOUNDBITE) World Trade Organisation Director-General, Pascal Lamy, saying (English): "Today Russia joins the world trade system with an export structure which is still heavily concentrated on fuels and minerals that represent more than two thirds of Russian exports. So short-term it's not the same picture, medium and long-term -- and this is my view as well as the view of the Russian authorities -- that this should be an important contribution to the future diversification of Russian exports." The World Bank says the move could add as much as 3.3% to Russia's GDP in the medium term. This could rise to as much as 11% in the longer term with most benefits in the service sector. Russia's also expected to save billions from lower foreign tariffs but it's not all good news. Dmitry Sredin is a senior executive at Sberbank. (SOUNDBITE) Sberbank Senior Executive, Dmitry Sredin, saying (Russian): "Many people view Russia right now as some sort of island of stability from the economic point of view and from the point of view of currency. I think it's hard to give a guarantee here. The only thing the government can do and will continue to do is to pursue needed reforms, aimed at a more open, diversified economy, which is beneficial for all the foreign investors." Russia is also hobbled by a reputation for crony capitalism, red tape and disregard for investors' rights Yet the WTO has no plans to fix corruption. (SOUNDBITE) World Trade Organisation Director-General, Pascal Lamy, saying (English): "There is no such thing as an international regime in the WTO that would constrain corruption. There are international legal instruments in the UN, in the OECD which Russia might join some time ahead from now. But this is, strictly speaking, not part of the WTO rules of legal conduct." Moscow negotiated a slow phasing in of its accession. Precisely how it's membership affects the country though, may not be so easily controlled. Joel Flynn, Reuters.