Russian WTO entry breeds controversy

Russian WTO entry breeds controversy

MOSCOW - Agence France Presse
Russia’s upcoming entry into the the World Trade Organization (WTO) is hailed by its leadership and global trade chiefs as a long overdue integration into the world economy over 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Oleg Podoyma, head of a poultry firm in the main Siberian city of Novossibirsk, is not so sure. “We are not expecting a bright future,” he sighed. With customs duties set to be slashed on imported goods after membership “there will be competition not just with national producers but with the importers.”

“For the moment 90 percent of the poultry consumed in Russia is produced in Russia and just 10 percent imported,” he said.

But Podoyma fears that after WTO membership the market will be flooded by U.S., Brazilian and
European produce.

Russia is due to join the WTO this summer, ending a saga that required 18 years of negotiations and was marked by frequent snags and mutual recriminations.

Konstatin Babkin, head of the Rosagromash association which groups together producers of Russian agricultural machinery, fears that millions of jobs will be lost in the sector. “We have already 40 million hectares of abandoned agricultural land. After we enter the WTO, huge numbers of villages are just going to die.” Babkin, whose group has emerged as one the loudest voices opposing WTO membership, slammed the conditions negotiated by Moscow with other members.