The move follows 18 years of complex negotiations. Russia has traditionally been an important export destination for EU food and drink products. It remains the EU’s second largest foreign market after the US. However, despite large trade flows (exports worth €7.2bn in 2011) and the existing level of direct investment worth billions of euros, the Russian market until today has remained outside of the prevailing multilateral trade system.
“The accession of Russia to the World Trade Organisation is a welcome development for the world economy and for Europe’s food and drink industry,” said FoodDrinkEurope president Jesus Perez. “Increased transparency and reduced barriers to trade between Europe and Russia will open up new opportunities for Europe’s food business, stimulating some much needed growth in our economy at present.”
Having joined the WTO, Russia is obliged to ensure its food-related legislation develops in conformity with the Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, plus other requirements.
Expected increase in transparency
Europe’s food and drink operators welcome the expected increase in transparency in trade-related policy planning, said FoodDrinkEurope.
Other anticipated benefits are a planned gradual reduction in the average maximum tariff for agricultural products and the opening of tariff quotas for some agri-food products. Discussions are also expected to start between Russia and the EU on export restrictions for agricultural commodities.
European food and beverage manufacturers also welcomed the efforts made by the Russian government to make customs procedures easier, stimulate innovation and infrastructure and develop the country’s investment climate.
Welcoming Russia as the 156th WTO member, FoodDrinkEurope said it hoped it would play a constructive role in advancing complex multilateral trade negotiations.