The U.S. has reaffirmed its commitment to reaching an agreement on Russian accession to the WTO, despite Russia’s perceived snub to foreign partners in its announcement earlier this week that Gazprom would retain full control of the Shtokman natural gas fields. Trade delegations from both nations have pledged to conclude negotiations by the end of October, but after being unable to meet the initial deadline of the G8 meeting in July, the timeline for Russian membership remains unclear. At the center of the dispute is Russia’s weak enforcement of existing intellectual property laws, which must be addressed. Russia’s unwillingness to meet the WTO’s strenuous IPR standards and the United States’ insistence that they do so remains a roadblock to further economic progress.
In a new Carnegie Paper, Intellectual Property Rights as a Key Obstacle to Russia’s WTO Accession, trade scholars Sherman Katz and Matthew Ocheltree elucidate the challenges and policy options that Russia faces on enforcing intellectual property rights, highlighting lessons learned from the experiences of China and Ukraine. Although recent intellectual property law enforcement initiatives are promising, reluctance to seriously address the problem results in little real progress.
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Katz and Ocheltree argue that Russia must prove itself a responsible member of the trading regime by strengthening its copyright laws on optical disc plants, step up its enforcement efforts, and follow through with fines and convictions for those who violate these laws. In principle, these requirements are comparable to those already acknowledged by China, Ukraine, and other recent WTO inductees. The goal of this paper is to advance U.S.-Russia dialogue on accession and to help achieve significant progress in international trade.
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Sherman E. Katz is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His research focuses on WTO global trade negotiations in the Doha Round, implications of Chinese accession to the WTO, and the distribution of benefits from U.S. Free Trade Agreements.
Matthew Ocheltree has been a research assistant with the Trade, Equity and Development Project since February 2006.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States.
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