Background

Despite a few positive steps, Russia is continuing to promulgate protectionist economic policies and disregard the general principles of the World Trade Organization, according to USTR’s annual report on Russia’s compliance with its WTO accession commitments. The report states that the U.S. will continue to press Russia to comply with its WTO commitments and pursue market-based principles.

The report identifies a number of non-tariff barriers to importing into Russia, including the following.

- a cumbersome and opaque import licensing regime on products with cryptographic capabilities

- a ban on imports of nearly all agricultural goods from the U.S. and other WTO members

- sanitary and phytosanitary requirements that are not consistent with international standards or based on scientific justification

- various policies and practices that may not be consistent with national treatment obligations, such as Russia’s recycling fee, copyright levy system, value-added tax on movie distribution, and excise taxes on wine

- technical regulations that do not adhere to international standards, especially those applicable to alcoholic products and medical devices

- localization and domestic content policies expanded beyond government procurement to state-owned enterprises and often by implication the private sector

- weak intellectual property enforcement efforts and reliance on new provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to justify the issuance of compulsory licenses

- failure to notify the WTO about draft measures in a timely manner to give trading partners the opportunity to voice any concerns

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