Lawmakers in Russia’s lower house of parliament have voted to join the World Trade Organisation.
As the vote was held in the State Duma, opponents – led by the Communists – held a demonstration outside the parliament building.
They warned the economic consequences will be dire as Moscow will now have to cut import tariffs and open up key sectors of its economy to foreign investment.
Inside the State Duma, even the Economy Minister Andrei Belousov admitted that carried risks. But he insisted the risks would be outweighed by the benefits with Russian consumers enjoying better choice, quality and prices for goods.
Nearly all opposition lawmakers voted against ratification, with the vote carried by the ruling United Russia party.
The upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, also must approve the bill before it is sent to President Vladimir Putin to sign into law.
Both are expected before the July 23rd deadline for Russia to notify the WTO it has accepted its terms for entry.
This ends a tortuous 18-year negotiating marathon to bring the world’s largest country – with the ninth largest economy – into the club that sets global trade rules.
Russia will officially become the WTO’s 156th member 30 days after ratification.