Volume 51
Issue 4
Spring '21

A Call to Action: Russia’s Shortcomings in Fulfilling its Commitments to the World Trade Organization, and the World Trade Organization’s Shortcomings in Enforcing Those Commitments

Written By: Kaitie Wilson


After a nineteen-year journey, the Russian Federation finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012. Russia had to overcome significant hurdles to obtain membership, including internal opposition, disputes with other WTO members such as the United States and Georgia, and the need to make substantial commitments to change its trade policy. While Russia deserves praise for many of the advancements it made to qualify for membership, it has not fully adhered to all the promises it made at the time of accession. This lack of compliance has been discussed: the United States completes an annual review of Russia’s membership and, more importantly, the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Mechanism reviewed Russia’s membership in 2016. But since 2016, Russia has at best plateaued if not regressed from meeting its obligations. The WTO will soon review Russia’s membership again and has an opportunity to not only expose Russia’s negative trade practices, but also to set a standard for dealing with non-compliance. If the WTO and WTO members do not address Russia’s actions (or lack thereof), Russia’s failure to comply with its commitments has the potential to threaten the very structure of the WTO.

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