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Does the WTO help member states improve governance?


On 16 December 2011, Russia gained the approval of 153 other member states to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). During its arduous eighteen-year accession, Russian officials reformed a wide range of laws and policies that could affect trade. 1 Russia made these changes because senior Russian officials believed that improved governance would pay off in greater foreign investment, and that investment in turn would stimulate economic growth. 2 President Vladimir Putin acknowledged ‘countries compete in the attractiveness of their business climate … quality of state institutions and effectiveness of the court and legal system’. Ivan Tchakarov, chief economist at the Russian brokerage Renaissance Capital, asserted ‘By becoming a WTO member, Russia will have to import … rules and regulations that will address the very issues that foreign investors usually complain about, like corruption, the protection of minority shareholders, the independence of the judiciary.’ 3

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