MOSCOW, July 2 (RIA Novosti) - Prominent U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz on Thursday called the terms demanded of Russia to join the World Trade Organization "outrageous" and praised Russia for standing up to the global trade body.
"The WTO should be an international agreement where, if you agree to go along with the provisions, any country can join," said Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank.
"That's not the way it's done. The way it is done is what one group called 'extortion at the gate,'" he said during a Moscow-Manchester video conference.
"The United States and some other countries have tried to say, 'if you want to join our club, you just don't have to agree with the terms everybody else does, but you have to pay us something extra, you have to go beyond the terms of the agreement and give concessions that other countries don't have to agree to,'" he said.
"I think this is outrageous. And I think it was important for Russia to say 'we won't do that, we will go along with the agreement signed by other countries but we won't be subjected to this kind of extortion,'" Stiglitz said.
"Unfortunately poor countries, developing countries, often aren't in that position of strength to say that to the WTO. And I think it was actually a positive contribution for the sake of the whole global community that Russia did that," the professor at Britain's University of Manchester said.
He also said Russia had much less to gain from joining than other countries because its export base depends so much on natural resources and raw materials, which are not subject to trade restrictions.
"Meanwhile your market could be flooded with imported goods from other countries that would make it more difficult for you to recreate the industrial base that would be necessary for a strong economy," he said.
Russia has been involved in talks to join the WTO for 16 years, Kazakhstan for 13 years. Belarus recently has shown no desire to join the global trade body.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan plan to join the global trade body in the form of a united customs territory. They made the decision on June 9 after talks between the three countries' prime ministers.