Georgia Blocks Russian WTO Accession; Not Ukraine

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 5/19/2008 01:25:00 AM
As a semi-pointless aside, I am firmly convinced that Hillary Clinton would have walloped that Obama chap in the Democratic primaries if she looked like the otherworldly beautiful Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. If politics is showbiz for ugly people, she is definitely in the wrong business. Somehow, I think that there is no need to pander to cheap populism when you look like, well, Yulia Tymoshenko. It has been demonstrated in the evolutionary psychology literature that beautiful women tend to get what they want. Freer capital flows? Sure thing, Missus T. Liberalize trade? Whatever you want, Missus T. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Having just acceded to the WTO, the Ukraine is purportedly not against Russia entering the world body despite past disputes over gas supplies. According to the Ukraine's calculus of consent, it will be able to wheedle more favourable trade terms with its sometimes menacing neighbour if it doesn't hinder the latter's path to WTO accession. From the article that follows, Missus T does indeed see better trade ties as a leverage point in Russia's WTO negotiations. You got it, Missus T. From RBC News:
Having entered the WTO, Ukraine will not hinder Russia's accession to the organization, Alexander Babakov, Deputy Speaker of the Russian State Duma responsible for parliamentary relations between the lower chamber of the country's parliament with Ukraine, told journalists today. He reiterated that Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko named the creation of trade space between the two countries in line with WTO's policies and regulations as Ukraine's priority. Babakov also expressed hope that Russia was getting a new ally that would support the country in its attempt to join the WTO.

The official also pointed out that cheap Ukrainian products could appear on the Russian market, if they could not compete with products of other WTO member states. However, Babkov noted that this had already happened in the past and that negotiations on the mater would be purely economic rather than political.

On the other hand, Russia's other neighbour and former satellite, Georgia, is going berserk over Russia's perceived interference over the would-be breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I've posted more extensively about this issue earlier, though it's worthwhile to hear the same idea repeated by Georgian officials. From Reuters:

Georgia said Friday that it would block negotiations on Russian entry to the World Trade Organization until Moscow reverses a decision last month to step up ties with two breakaway Georgian provinces. "Until this document that undermines Georgia's right is revoked, it will be an obstacle for Russia's WTO entry," Georgian Reintegration Minister Temur Iakobashvili told a news conference in Moscow. "I know it is a very tough statement to make, but it is a fact," Iakobashvili added.

Russia, the largest economy still outside the global trade body, is due to hold a next round of talks with the WTO accession working group on May 26, and Georgia said it would seek a bilateral meeting with Russia on the same day. Under WTO rules, candidate countries have to reach agreement with a working party, in which any existing member can take part, as well as agree on a bilateral deal with any member that seeks it.

Moscow's support for separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is the most difficult problem in relations between Russia and Georgia, which is seeking to join NATO and the European Union. Tbilisi has condemned as a breach of international law Moscow's decision to establish legal links with the provinces, controlled since the early 1990s by separatist governments.

"The Georgian side will not change its opinion. We cannot talk about trade regimes when there are sanctions against Georgia in place, when an attempt to annex Georgian territory is going on," Iakobashvili said.