Russian WTO Accession and the Geneva Agreements: Implications for Russia and Georgia
Representatives of Georgia and Russia signed a set of agreements in Geneva on November 9 that opened the way for the World Trade Organization accession of Moscow. Georgia was the only country that had blocked Russian accession to the WTO for years, demanding that Russia let Georgian authorities monitor trade activities between Russia and the separatist Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to the Swiss-mediated deal, Moscow agreed to allow an independent, private company to check customs on all border crossing points between Russia and Georgia, including the ones on the separatist territories. In exchange, Georgia ceased blocking Moscow’s WTO accession.
This paper intends to look at the broader consequences of the Geneva deal. There are two main research questions to answer. The first is how the Geneva agreements are going to affect Georgia and Russia, both the individual countries and their bilateral relationship. In order to answer this question, the author assesses domestic political and economic implications in both countries, in addition to foreign policy aspects. The latter is particularly important, given that the two countries have had no diplomatic ties since the August 2008 war.
The second research question is whether the Geneva agreements offer a sustainable and realistic framework for monitoring trade activities on the Russia-Georgia border. While seeking an answer, the problem of potential noncompliance will also be addressed. This latter aspect is necessary to study because one can easily point to many examples when Russia did not comply with agreements with other post-Soviet countries (including Georgia) that faced the threat of separatist conflicts.