After 18 years of negotiations, Russia has finally been approved to join the World Trade Organisation ("WTO"). Russia will formally accede to the WTO 30 days following ratification of the accession package by the Russian Parliament - this is expected to be by mid-2012 at the latest.
Russia's WTO membership creates opportunities for Irish exporters to Russia as it will gradually bring about a reduction in the level of customs duties on imports into Russia. For example, the average customs duty rates for many imported goods will fall: e.g. for agricultural goods from 13.2% to 10.8%; for manufactured goods from 9.5% to 7.3%; and for information technology goods from 5.4% to 0%. Also, Russia's WTO membership will ease other non-tariff barriers to trade such as the level of customs clearance fees and the number of goods subject to import licences, permits, quotas etc.