The Charlatan is Carleton University’s independent student newspaper run separately from the School of Journalism.
Eighteen years after its first attempt, Russia finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) Nov. 11, with the help of Carleton’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL).
Funded by the department of foreign affairs and international trade, the CTPL is a joint project between Carleton and the University of Ottawa. It aims to promote teaching and research in trade and policy, according to Carleton’s website.
Russia’s ascension to the WTO will bring the country a little closer to the economic village and will provide better rules to manage Russia’s relations with its trading partners, including Canada, said CTPL executive director Phil Rourke.
“This is good for Russia’s economic relations with the rest of the world. And this is good for the international community because we have another mechanism and forum with which to engage Russia,” Rourke said via email. “Finally, it’s good for the WTO. It was not truly a ‘world’ organization without Russia as a member. Now it is.”
CTPL staff have been working with Russian negotiators since 1994 and were the only non-Russians to advise the lead negotiator, Maxim Medvedkov, Rourke said. The majority of the current and former staff are Carleton graduates, he said.
“We’ve set up training programs with universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We helped establish a sister organization in Moscow that also specializes in helping governments out on trade issues,” Rourke said. “We see ourselves as the training ground for Canada’s future diplomats, negotiators and business leaders.”
Joining the WTO is a long process to begin with, Rourke said, with technical and legal issues to address.
“One obstacle over the years has been the time it has taken for Russia to decide what kind of economy they want to have in the future and how to get there,” he said.
“Once they decided that WTO membership was part of that strategy, some of the political decisions could then take place to bring together a deal that was acceptable to the WTO.”
Rourke said while Russia was making those negotiations, the West had to go through a similar evolution in thinking about how they viewed their economic and political relations with Russia.
“When those two pieces came together and the technical package was in place, it was only a matter of time before Russia became a member,” Rourke said.
Through the collaboration of Ottawa’s two biggest universities, the Canada’s trade and foreign ministry and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Russia succeeded in becoming part of the WTO.
“It’s an excellent example of how universities and Canadian expertise outside of government can help Canada achieve some of its trade and foreign policy objectives,” Rourke said. “We have a unique advantage here in Ottawa to make things happen.”