18 Feb 2019 10:52

WTO has essentially ceased to function due to U.S. actions - minister

MOSCOW. Feb 18 (Interfax) - The actions of the United States in the area of international trade have led to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) activities coming to a virtual standstill and one can theoretically conceive that the trade body will cease to function altogether, Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said on the Main Actors with Nailya Asker-Zade show on TV channel Rossiya 1.

However, he reiterated that the issue of Russia withdrawing from the WTO is not being considered, since it would lead to a significant worsening of trade conditions for Russian exporters.

"The U.S. is now being the most active in the international arena, destroying all of the principles of work that have taken shape in recent years. There was a big meeting of WTO ministers [in Davos in January]. The organization is now de facto not functioning, all processes have simply ground to a halt," Oreshkin said.

Asked if the WTO might cease to exist, he said: "Well, theoretically, of course such a possibility cannot be ruled out. Right now chains are starting to break on such elements, and if this process is not stopped in time then ultimately we might end up in such a divided world, which will grow far more slowly."

"If Russia withdraws from the WTO, we might get a dramatic worsening of trade conditions with our main partners for our steelmakers, for a number of other companies that ship to foreign markets. The situation will worsen dramatically, and therefore we also won't get any benefits here. So in this regard, the WTO is an absolute benefit for Russia, we need to know how to work there, need to know how to act there," Oreshkin said.