Russia formally became a member of the World Trade
Organization (WTO) on Wednesday, as an agreement signed last year
came into effect.
Negotiations between Russia and the WTO lasting 18 years ended with an accession agreement signed in December. Russia had long been the last major economy not to have joined the group.
The Pacific state of Vanuatu also joined the organization, raising its total membership to 157th, WTO said.
Russia will deregulate prices for most goods after a two to three year interim period, and five to seven years for more sensitive goods, according to Russian media reports.
Key Kremlin concessions for the agreement include reduced support to Russia's farm equipment, shipbuilding and aviation construction industries.
As a result of the WTO agreement, blanket public assistance to those sectors will stop and be replaced by state support to selected individual producers.
Net Russian state support to agriculture reportedly will fall from a projected 9 billion dollars in 2012-2013 to 4.4 billion in 2018.
WTO membership will also allow Russia to sell metals in the European Union without quotas, and to as much as triple export quotas for pine and spruce in 2013.
Export duties on natural and petroleum gas and gaseous hydrocarbons, by far Russia's most valuable export to the European Union, will remain unchanged.
In a statement out of Brussels, the EU described Russia's membership of the WTO as "a major step for Russia's further integration into the world economy."
"It will facilitate investment and trade, help to accelerate the modernisation of the Russian economy and offer plenty of business opportunities for both Russian and European companies. I trust that Russia will meet the international trading rules and standards to which it has committed," EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said.
The EU is Russia's largest trading partner, with 108.4 billion euros (135 billion dollars) worth of EU exports to Russia in 2011. The EU mainly imports oil and gas from Russia.
Domestic critics of Russia's WTO accession argue that reduced state support and increased foreign competition will harm the country's agricultural, mechanical engineering and light industrial sectors.
Closer integration with the European and Asian economies, first and foremost to sell more energy products, has long been a top Kremlin priority.
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