Amid the current world financial turmoil, Russia's admission into the World Trade Organization (WTO) is seen by many as a beacon of hope. It will enhance free and fair trade as well as boost international cooperation at the same time.

Russian consumers hope admission will bring price stability or even a tangible drop in the cost of living. Western investors are banking on Moscow's membership in the rules-based body leading to more reliability and adherence to the rule of law by their partners when conducting business in the country.

In terms of opening up world trade still further, the final push taking Russia into the WTO is seen as the biggest step since China became a WTO member 10 years ago.

The agreement will pave the way for Russia to be more closely integrated into the global economy. Despite widespread corruption, judicial insecurity and swathes of unpredictable bureaucracy, Western investors are keen to exploit a market of more than 140 million consumers. Companies hope Moscow's WTO membership will help bring down the trade barriers, making it easier for foreign players to sell products in Russia.

For its part, the Russian domestic industry will be forced for the first time to improve its own productivity. Russia's uncompetitive banking sector will probably bear the brunt of international liberalization. Experts expect mass layoffs in many sectors, which have survived since Soviet times largely without overhauling their management strategies.

Russia has agreed to gradually phase out the protectionist practices so reviled in the West and the WTO is also insisting on progress on copyright and privatization.

The World Bank believes that Russia's accession to the WTO will allow the country's gross domestic product to grow by 3.3%  in the coming years.

Russia has already slashed import taxes on agricultural machinery, construction materials and technological items.

All in all, Russia is being given favourable conditions on entry into the WTO. The government will continue to regulate prices and the energy concern Gazprom is also being allowed to maintain its monopoly on gas.

Russia's WTO membership will not come into effect until it has been ratified by the Duma national legislature, which is expected to happen by mid-2012

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