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Ministry of economic development of the Russian Federation

Maxim Oreshkin: BRICS presents a united front for free trade

10.10.2017

The World Trade Organization is facing hard times now. The reason is the policy of certain countries which initially were advocates of free trade but later changed their position. This was announced in an exclusive interview to RT by Maxim Oreshkin, Russian Minister of Economic Development.
In discussion with Oksana Boyko, the channel presenter, he emphasized that Moscow plays an active role in the WTO and is taking a strong line regarding the dispute around the Third Energy Package. The head of the Ministry of Economic Development told what issues the Russian delegation is going to discuss at a WTO conference in Argentina as well as about the BRICS “united front” and low negotiability of Kiev.
— Maxim Stanislavovich, the EU within the WTO expressed concern regarding Russian taxes on foreign wines. To what extent are you familiar with their claims? Has this issue been discussed with your colleagues?
— Actually, there are plenty of trade disputes in WTO including our disputes with the European Union: everything connected with the Third Energy Package. This wine issue as you correctly mentioned. Accordingly, all these procedures are developing in the way they should develop in a country within WTO. There are not any relevant news yet but, certainly, this issue is one of the most discussed ones.
— You mentioned the Energy Package. As far as I know, in autumn the WTO’s arbitrators will deliver a decision regarding this dispute. Surely, you cannot influence or foresee the decision of the court but, nevertheless, in your opinion, how strong is the Russian position?  
— The answer is simple. If we don’t understand the strength of our position and do not feel quite strongly that we may win, we basically do not apply to the WTO and do not initiate disputes. Regarding this certain dispute, it’s early to say, the decision has not been made public yet, that’s why the discussion is still behind the scenes.   
In May Russia filed a claim against Ukraine because of sanctions. First consultations have already been held. To what extent have Russia succeeded in establishing a contact with the Ukrainian party? How do you evaluate, so to say, negotiability of your opponent? 
— Negotiability is very low. Unfortunately, at the moment it is so. But we hope that further the situation will change. We have claims filed by Ukraine against Russia. There are claims filed by Russia against Ukraine. There is a whole new range of areas we have been taking. For the time being, it all is developing within the procedures available in the WTO.    
With what position is Russia going to the WTO Ministers’ Conference in Argentina? And are the BRICS countries intend to present a united front there?
— We can see that the WTO is facing hard times now. The reason is the position of some countries which initially were strong advocates of this organization, advocates of free trade, and now we can see change of positions here. That is why, this affects the World Trade Organization a little, for sure. I think, the BRICS countries are the ones who present a united front here, the front that will stand for free global trade, for moving forward, that is why such common position is extremely important for the WTO not only to be saved as an organization but also to strengthen and allow the global economy to move forward actively.
As to the December meeting in Argentina, we stand with our positions here, too. Russia has become the WTO member for not so long ago, five years only, but, what is very important, we play an active role here and the issues we raise are connected including with restriction of agricultural subsidies of Russia. It is the country that provides subsidies. There are not so many such countries as compared to others and levelling of competitive ground is, certainly, very important for active development of Russian agriculture. Development in terms of supplies both to domestic and international markets.
Another two issues are protection of investments and electronic trade. Issues that are very relevant for today’s economy will mainly determine its development in the coming years. That is why it is very important in this regard, first, to go through the first stage of determination of some fundamentals at the December conference in Argentina and further to continue active work with respect to these issues.
With your permission, a short question from our Arab colleagues. Medvedev, the Prime Minister, is having a working trip in Algeria and Morocco. What are the prospects of cooperation with these two countries? Is it expected that any agreements in which you may have taken part will be concluded?  
— We have really good relationships with Algeria and Morocco and they are developing. Prior to the visit of the Russian Prime Minister I held negotiations with the Minister of Industry and Trade of Morocco. We reviewed: there are a lot of areas where he have developed relations, where we carry on trade and investment contracts are coming up. But we have also seen that there is a potential for development of cooperation in industry, in a number of areas of agriculture. In the areas where we can help each other. Namely, these are the relations in which Russia and Morocco will get a positive effect together for the benefit of people both in Russia and Morocco.       
The situation is absolutely the same with Algeria. That is why this visit and, in general, relationships of Russia with the Arab world are enforcing and strengthening. This is not only the North of Africa but also the Middle East, for sure. The King of Saudi Arabia has just visited Moscow and it has been very positive, too.

Oksana Boyko

Source: Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation



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