The EU filed the first case against Russia in the WTO yesterday. The Russian Federation joined the WTO last August (2012).
The EU argues that the Russian recycling fee imposed on auto imports violate the national treatment principle. The EU contends that the fees are a protectionist measure under the guise of environmental legislation especially since they apply only to imports. EU officials say they are disappointed since they viewed Russia’s objective in joining the WTO was to anchor it to a more predictable, rules-based trading system.
The Russian actions may well disappoint EU officials, and justifiable so, but this is how global trade disputes are settled today. Countries have different views of trade rules in specific situations. They are then litigated in the WTO. This is central to today’s rules-based system. So far the WTO dispute resolution system has really proven itself over the last twenty years.
For example, China entered the WTO in 2001 and has been a party in many cases. By-and-large once WTO panels have spoken the recommendations have generally been implemented by China.
We should expect the same in light of Russia’s accession. Countries find it in their national interest to comply with global trade rules once they have been adjudicated. Just as the EU delegate suggested. Global trade rules create more predictability and thus increases trade and economic development. This is the goal of all states. Russia is no exception. Russia needs more trade and economic development. That’s why it joined.