Russia joined the World Trade Organization on Aug. 22 to become its 156th member. Two days later, the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu jointed the WTO as its 157th member.

This is the first time since 2001 when China jointed the WTO that a large trading country like Russia has joined the organization that deals with the global rules of trade between countries.

As an important WTO member, Russia should realize its responsibility to make its business environment transparent and contribute to working out constructive global trade rules from the standpoint of promoting global economic development.

By behaving in a manner worthy of its membership in the WTO, Russia will be able to help expand its exports and integrate itself into the global economic system.

It took 18 years for Russia to get WTO membership approval after it applied to join the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade, the predecessor of the WTO, in 1993.

With Russia’s participation, trade by the WTO member nations account for about 97 percent of global trade. Russia, as one of the BRICS emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), often confronts the United States and the European Union in international negotiations.

Now that Russia is a WTO member, it is hoped that Russia will look beyond its self-interest to the interest of the global economic system and behave accordingly.

Because the WTO has given up on concluding, anytime in the near future, the Doha round of multinational trade rule negotiations, which were launched in 2001, moves among WTO member nations to form free trade agreements or economic partnership agreements are accelerating.

But FTA and EPA are similar in structure to economic blocs and tend to exclude late-starting developing countries such as those from Africa. In view of this, it is important that the WTO play a leading role in expanding global trade through universal trade rules. By using Russia’s participation in the WTO as a chance, Japan should make serious efforts to restart the Doha round negotiations.

Russia’s joining the WTO will help eradicate its opaque and complicated rules related to imports and exports and whimsical and frequently changing rules.

Russia’s high tariffs apparently targeted at Japanese cars will also be rectified. If Russia takes inappropriate action in trade-related matters, other WTO members can file complaints against it and take their complaints before the WTO.

It is hoped that Russia’s WTO membership will contribute to enlarging trade and investment between Japan and Russia.

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