Russia has finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) at a ceremony in Switzerland on Friday, after 18 years negotiating its membership.
The Swiss brokered a deal between Russia and Georgia earlier this year that removed the last obstacle to Russia’s accession.
Georgia had tried to block Russia’s WTO entry since the two countries fought a short war in 2008.
Russia was by far the biggest economy yet to join the global trade body.
It is also the last member of the Group of 20 major economies to join, after China gained membership in 2001.
“This result of long and complex talks is good both for Russia and for our future partners,” President Dmitry Medvedev said in a message to a WTO ministerial meeting in Geneva that formally approved Russia’s membership.
- 1993 Russia applies to join the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt)
- 1995 The Gatt is institutionalised as the World Trade Organization (WTO)
- 1998 Russia suffers a major financial crisis
- 2000 US President Bill Clinton backs Russia’s WTO bid in a speech to the Russian parliament
- Vladimir Putin succeeds Boris Yeltsin as Russian president
- 2001 China joins the WTO after 16 years of talks
- Russian membership talks intensify
- 2002 The US and EU recognise Russia as a market economy, removing a major hurdle to WTO membership
- 2004 EU gives formal backing to Russia’s application
- 2006 US formally backs Russian membership
- Georgia threatens to veto after Russia imposes a trade blockade on it
- 2008 Brief Russian military invasion of Georgia
- President Putin questions the benefits of joining the WTO
- 2010 EU reaffirms support for Russian membership
- 2011 Russia reaches an agreement with Georgia in November, opening the way for its accession in December