After 18 years of negotiating its membership, Russia has finally been given the go-ahead to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The ceremony will take place on Friday in Switzerland.
The membership grant comes after Switzerland mediated a deal between Russia and Georgia earlier this year. The tensions between the two countries, which fought a short war in 2008, made Georgia try to block Russia’s entry into the WTO.
The deal between the two states removed the last barrier to Russia’s membership into the global trade body.
However, top Russian economist Ivan Tchakarov has said that Russia’s WTO inclusion marks a change of heart in Russian leadership as well as the rest of the world.
Tchakarov said that the global financial crisis of 2008 has brought about the reluctant sentiment that Russia will need to “open up a little bit” to foreign investment in order to make its economy more competitive.
Russia is the biggest economy to join the World Trade Organisation in recent years, and is also the last member of the Group of 20 major world economies to join. China gained its entry in 2001.
Though the Russian parliament will still need to ratify the WTO membership, officials have been talking up the benefits that the new move will bring.
A spokesperson from the Russian foreign ministry has said that the WTO move will bring “an influx of foreign investment,” and that being a WTO member gives them a “completely new level of integration into the global economic system.”
The WTO policies trade liberalisation agreements, and provides a way for countries to decide when trade rules have been breached. The body also imposes trade sanctions as a way of retaliating against unwarranted trade actions.
Because of this closer integration, trade barriers are removed to members, which is likely to stimulate greater trade between Russia and the rest of the world’s large economies.
The new membership will also force Russia to adopt WTO rules and regulations, fixing problems that have previously inhibited foreign investment. These problems include corruption and the lack of protection for minority shareholders.
According to some analysts’ estimates, Russia’s WTO membership will help boost the economy by tens of billions of dollars yearly.
Currently, Russia is the third largest export market for Europe, while Russia itself exports chiefly oil and gas.