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2012年8月25日 (土)

ロシア経済 WTO加盟で自由貿易促進を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 25, 2012)
Russia's WTO entry should promote free trade
ロシア経済 WTO加盟で自由貿易促進を(8月24日付・読売社説)

Russia entered the World Trade Organization on Wednesday as the group's 156th member. It is hoped the entry will promote international free trade and stimulate global economic growth.

Russia, which applied for membership in the WTO in 1993, has been called the "last major economy" to enter the group. It is significant that Russia has at last joined the free trade system governed by WTO rules.

Boosted by rising energy prices, including crude oil, Russia is enjoying solid economic growth. However, the country also faces the challenge of shifting its economy away from excessive dependence on energy resources.

It needs to transform the structure of its economy by implementing market-opening measures to develop international trade and at the same time attract foreign investment.

Since entering the WTO in 2001, China has achieved rapid economic growth through the expansion of trade and investment. China can almost certainly serve as a role model for Russia.


New market opportunities

In keeping with the rules of entry into the WTO, Russia has promised to gradually lower import duties on such items as industrial products.

For example, the import tariff on automobiles will be lowered from the current 30 percent to 25 percent in the near future, and will be reduced to 15 percent over the next seven years. The tariff on household appliances and electronics will be lowered from 15 percent to a range of 7 percent to 9 percent.

Russia has also adopted a policy of eventually eliminating all tariffs on IT products, including PCs.

We hope the country steadily progresses with these market-opening measures. It is also important for Russia to streamline its complex customs procedures, which will help boost trade with other countries. Furthermore, Russia needs to tackle the reduction of protectionist barriers that hinder foreign investment.

Although the value of trade between Japan and Russia has been on the rise, there is still room for growth to provide more business opportunities for Japanese firms. The automobile sector, one of Japan's leading export areas, is particularly promising. Japanese automakers are urged to amplify their strategies for the Russian market.


Abolish unfair restrictions

The fact that Russia has unilaterally introduced unfair trade restrictions, such as a hike in automobile tariffs and a limit on grain exports, is worrisome.

Russia is also planning to impose a tax on old cars scheduled to be scrapped, to cover the disposal cost of such vehicles. Should Japanese and other foreign automobiles be targeted specifically, the environment will become unfavorable for exporters to the country.

With its entry into the WTO, Russia is obliged to follow the group's rules. If the country adopts unfair trade measures that run counter to WTO regulations, it is highly likely other member countries will file complaints against Russia.

We also fear that protectionist measures, taken with increased frequency by governments in emerging economies, may adversely affect Russia's stance on international trade.

Indonesia has introduced an export duty on such items as nickel and copper, while Argentina has adopted an import permission system for certain goods, such as automobiles. Brazil is also demanding its trade partners increase their procurement of locally produced auto components.

Japan, in cooperation with the United States and European countries, must call on Russia and other emerging economies to abolish unfair trade measures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 24, 2012)
(2012年8月24日01時23分  読売新聞)


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