WTO Gives Russia Membership

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Trade ministers at the World Trade Organization have agreed to allow Russia entrance into the 153-member international trade group.

The agreement puts an end to a glaring omission in the WTO, as Russia has become an increasingly important gas and oil exporting nation that has critical political influence in other international organizations such as the United Nations, The New York Times reported Friday.

The WTO is a trade regulator that resolves international disputes. The group stipulates that members bestow favored-nation status on all other WTO members.

Russia and the United States, however, have each declared they would not extend that status to each other.

The United States is bound to refuse Russia the status because of the Jackson-Vanik law that linked favored status with Russia’s track record on allowing Russian Jews to emigrate.

In the past, the U.S. congress overturned the White House’s stance with Vietnam and Romania, which allows for the possibility they will do the same for Russia.

Joining the WTO could add 1 percent to Russia’s gross domestic product and give Prime Minister Vladimir Putin a boost politically, the Times said.

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