Russia continues to violate WTO commitments: USTR

In a statement the office of US Trade Representative said, Moscow continues to move away from commitments it made to join the World Trade Organization in 2012 citing increased restrictions in agricultural imports and import substitution policies.

In its annual report to the US Congress, Katherine Tai’s office said, in 2021 Russia introduced new tracking systems for consignments of goods through supply chains and has maintained non-science-based agricultural import restrictions.

“Over the past year, Russia has continued its trajectory of an economy moving away from the guiding principles of the WTO: non-discrimination, freer trade, predictability, transparency, and fair competition,” reads the USTR report to the US Congress.

“Rather, Russia maintains restrictive at-the-border measures, institutes behind-the-border measures to inhibit trade, and implements an industrial policy seemingly driven by the guiding principles of import substitution and forced localization.”

Raising concerns of Russian actions the USTR said it will “use all appropriate means to resolve the matter and keep Russia’s markets open to U.S. exports”.

The report goes on to note, since 2014, U.S. bilateral work with Russia on agricultural trade issues has been limited due to the latter’s military deployments in eastern Ukraine; US engagements in the WTO on Russia’s access barriers has also been limited.

Despite this, the USTR will continue to meet with industry stakeholders to discuss their concerns and strategies to remove such barriers.

Incidentally, the report did not shed any clarity on the steps Washington would undertake if Russian President Vladimir Putin was to invade Ukraine. In such an event, US officials have said, they will consider implementing tough export control measures to disrupt the Russian economy including efforts aimed at stopping Russia’s ability to import smartphones, auto parts, key aircraft and other materials.

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