Streetwise Professor

April 9, 2011

Putin on WTO: WTF?

Filed under: Economics,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 5:44 pm

When Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach gave a speech in which he lamented Russia’s ability to compete against imported Chinese electrical equipment due to its hands being tied by commitments made to facilitate admission to the World Trade Organization, Putin blew a gasket:

Mr. Putin then burst out, using sharp language, that Russian officials should ignore the rules. “This is a direct order,” Mr. Putin said, according to a report on the meeting in St. Petersburg by the Interfax news agency.

“As soon as we start fulfilling W.T.O. obligations without being a member, they, our partners, will lose any wish to admit us,” Mr. Putin said. “Why the hell should they admit us if we already observe everything?”

The fact is that Putin is a protectionist at heart.  His constituency is the large industrial interests–with whom his personal financial interests are almost certainly aligned.  A passive, disengaged, diffuse population of consumers who bear the burden of these policies, and who are almost certainly unaware of the impact of protectionism on their living standards is a far less pressing concern for Putin.  What’s more, as I’ve written frequently, protectionism is one of Putin’s important tools in maintaining the equilibrium in the Russian natural state.  Which suggests that Russian accession to the WTO will likely resemble the horizon to a sailor far from shore: no matter how much speed he makes, it never gets closer.

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1 Comment »

  1. The US policy should remain the same as always:

    1. Prevent Russia form joining WTO and continue to insist on the Vanik-Jackson amendment, which was passed some 35 years ago and insists on economic barriers on Russia until it allows Jews and others to freely emigrate. Of course, for the last 20 years Russia has had a perfectly open emigration and travel policy, but the USA should continue this outrage for at least 600 more years just for fun.

    2. Criticize Russia for not joining WTO, pretending that it is not the USA that’s preventing Russia from joining.

    Comment by Ostap Bender — April 9, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

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