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The trade is inappropriate

Written by The Frontier Post

Elena Popova

Two parties at once, the Communist Pa-rty of the Russian Federation and A Just Russia, are calling for an exit from the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organiz-ation. According to the deputies, these internati-onal structures, contro-lled by the West, undermine the economy, and Russia only spends money on membership fees and does not receive any benefits. They object: in this case, Moscow will embark on the path of isolation.
Get in line
After the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, Western countries imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia. President Vladimir Putin instructed the government to analyze such actions of WTO members for compliance with the rules of the organization. The results will be in June.
For the past three mon-ths, Russia has been systematically withdrawing fr-om various international st-ructures. According to De-puty Chairman of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy, now the WTO and WHO are n-ext in line. Participation in these organizations, he ex-plained, was “a graceless e-xperience” because “they t-ried to impose their rules on us, which they now so easily refused to follow.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already sent the depu-ties a list of agreements for possible denunciation.
However, not everyone in the country’s leadership is so radical. The same Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned a month ago that this would be a “gift to enemies.” Director of the Dep-artment of Economic Coop-eration Dmitry Birichevsky pointed to the main advantage of the WTO – reduced customs tariffs.
“The withdrawal proposal has not yet been formalized into law. We need to analyze the feasibility of various international treat-ies in the context of We-stern sanctions and other restrictions. This also ap-plies to the WTO. Now the parliament needs to either confirm our fears or refute them,” says A Just Russia MP Alexander Babakov.
The very procedure of parting with the WTO is also not easy. It is necessary to submit an application, which must be approved by all states, after which certain conditions will need to be met. But even after leaving the organization, you will have to fulfill its requirements, since these are the rules of the EAEU.
Russia has already withdrawn from the Council of Europe, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the UN Human Rights Council. The rejection of the Bol-ogna educational system is discussed. But the head of the Accounts Chamber, Al-exei Kudrin, urges not to rush to terminate international agreements, since the Russian economy is very strongly integrated into the world economy.
Unmet expectations
The leader of the Right-wing Russia, Sergei Mironov, noted that the agricultural sector, light industry, engineering and metallurgy suffered from joining the WTO.
“The reduction in dom-estic duties benefited Wes-tern importers and hit their own producers. So, by No-vember 2012, there were t-wice as many foreign dairy products on the shelves,” h-e explained to RIA Novosti.
Russian companies have higher production costs, so full-fledged competition has not been achieved, the politician added. The winners were those who were already living quite well, the exporters of raw materials.
In the WTO, Russia received the status of “most favored nation”, and this increased the competitiveness of exports, but not for long. “Since 2014, as the anti-Russian sanctions have expanded, this only plus from joining the WTO has lost its significance, and now it has completely reset,” Mironov stressed.
State Duma deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Nikolai Kolomeitsev tried four times in 2017 to push thro-ugh a bill to denounce the agreement. “Forty-nine tho-usand pages have not been translated into Russian – this is already a violation. Since joining, our exports have decreased by 11%. A-nd then, you see: the WTO, like other international organizations, is controlled and used by the United States as an instrument of pressure on other countries”, he told RIA Novosti.
The parliamentarian is convinced that it is necessary to reformat participation in all organizations to which Russia pays “frantic contributions”, and then they “buy weapons against us with our own money.” “First of all, it is the WTO, WHO, the International Labor Organization and the IMF,” he lists.
Calculating how much this costs Russia is not difficult. WHO is funded by annual contributions and voluntary donations. In the midst of the pandemic, the US transferred $116 million, China $57. Russia $12 million, two percent of the total.
Moscow donates about $80 million to the UN. For comparison: China – 200 million, Japan – 268, USA – 610. Russia paid 33 million euros to the Council of Europe, 8.5 million to the OSCE, nine more to the International Labor Organi-zation, 11.7 million dollars to the IMF and, finally, in the WTO – 4.6 million.
That is, by withdrawing from all these structures, Russia will save about $160 million a year. Not so mu-ch. And there are many pr-ivileges from participation in these organizations. For example, the right of veto in the UN Security Council.
And nothing has changed
The World Health Organization includes 194 states. Thanks to this structure, the world coped with malaria, the fight against HIV began, and smallpox was eliminated. The coronavirus pandemic and the new monkeypox are also in the focus of the WHO.
But not everything is so rosy. The organization was heavily criticized and even suspected of being a scam. In particular, in 2009, because of swine flu, when WHO insisted on mass vaccination of the population. In the coronavirus epidemic – for “fear and confusion”, and not dry information about the disease. However, later industry experts came to the conclusion that it was the mistake with swine flu that made it possible to quickly develop a vaccine against covid.
“In addition to politicians, WHO is headed by specialists. It would be a pity if we had to leave the organization, but we will not disappear – on the contrary, after some time they will come to us to participate in those expert groups that we will form around ourselves,” argues head of the FBMA agency Veronika Skvortsova.
The WTO was created to liberalize international trade and regulate trade and political relations. Outside the organization there are only 34 countries, mostly small island countries with a weak economy, as well as unrecognized Abkhazia, Transnistria, Northern Cyprus, and Palestine.
Russia has been striving for the WTO since 1993. Aleksey Kudrin, who headed the Ministry of Finance, pointed out that there was no other way to make a breakthrough in the economy. “Russia must take its niche in the international division of labor, it must conquer foreign markets. And access to them is possible only according to the general rules that we accept when joining the WTO,” he explained.
As a result, Moscow took on a number of obligations, including the reduction of customs duties on agricultural products, indu-stry, cars and chemical pro-ducts. In response, WTO member countries eased restrictions on Russian imports. But after reunification with Crimea in 2014, a sanctions war unfolded. And now the situation is even more complicated.
Excess activity
According to former D-eputy Economic Develop-ment Minister Aleksey Vedev, the domestic economy has not benefited from participation in the WTO; rather, on the contrary, it has faced additional difficulties in foreign trade.
But now Russia is under sanctions, so the WTO does not play any role and the denunciation of the agreement would become excessive activity, the source of RIA Novosti continues. Another question is which way the economy will go.
“One of the global ideas of the WTO is the unification of rules and restrictions. Including a partial ban on export subsidies. All this looks reasonable, but if the WTO is canceled, international trade will not stop, it will simply become more chaotic. Instead of general rules, there will be bilateral relations,” Vedev noted.
Doctor of Medical Sciences, general practitioner Vladislav Zhemchugov is against leaving the WHO. “Today everyone is convinced that there are no boundaries, social foundations for microbes and viruses, they do not divide people into poor and rich – the planet is one. I have experience in an international project to prevent the spread of diseases on distant approaches, whi-ch we developed together with American counterparts. WHO really plays a significant role in the fight against viruses,” he says.
“In the 1990s, we tho-ught that we would buy all this for oil money, and the pharmacological industry was destroyed. Now all this is being restored, and we have something to share w-ith the world in terms of preventing the spread of infections,” the RIA Novo-sti interlocutor emphasizes.
If Russia leaves the WHO, the doctor continues, there will be no collapse in healthcare – the country has enough specialists, developments, capacities for the production of vaccines and medicines.

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