Russia Officially Joins the World Trade Organization: What it Means for American Businesses and Workers



August 23 – After 18 years of negotiations, on August 22, Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the 156th member. The WTO provides a set of rules for international trade that all members agree to comply with. In addition, the WTO has a formal dispute resolution process that a Member can use if it believes that another Member has violated its WTO obligations.


As a result of Russia’s membership in the WTO, American businesses, farmers, ranchers and service suppliers could have new market opportunities in one of the world’s largest and most vibrant economies. Currently, as Ambassador Kirk stated, American companies will not be able to enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s WTO membership. That is why the Administration is working closely with Congress to secure legislation terminating the application to Russia of the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which currently precludes permanent normal trade relations with Russia. When adopted, legislation authorizing PNTR with Russia will provide American businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers and service suppliers the same opportunity to enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s WTO Membership that their counterparts in other WTO Members have now.


Russia is currently our 31st largest export market. In 2011, the U.S. exported over $8 billion in goods to Russia, up 38% from 2010. The top export categories were machinery, vehicles, and aircraft. Agricultural exports to Russia totaled $1.2 billion, making Russia the 19th largest Agricultural export market.


For a more in-depth view of how Russia’s accession to the WTO will benefit America’s economy, please visit our website

World’s Most Expensive Cities For Hotel Stays 2012


August 17, 2012

Finding a great value hotel is a crucial step for most travelers, but your search for affordable accommodation will prove far more tasking if you plan on visiting some of the world’s most expensive cities. Locations like Moscow, Lagos, Rio De Janeiro, and Mexico City, are not for the faint of pocketbooks.

(Photo: Reuters)  Moscow











According to the latest bi-annual hotel survey from Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), the award-winning international corporate services company, hotel prices appear to be stabilizing, as 23 cities showed a year on year increase in 2012, compared with 33 cities in 2011.

“The results of the hotel survey present an intriguing picture of where businesses are channeling travel spend. Macroeconomic weakness and uncertainty are driving room rates down across mainland Europe, but the significant growth in room rates across the Latin American region indicates a shift in business priorities towards high potential destinations.” Stewart Harvey, Group Commercial Director At HRG said in a statement.

“Businesses are not necessarily spending less on travel, but they are certainly looking for ways to make existing budgets work harder. As demand drives hotel prices up in emerging regions, we are working with clients to help negotiate the fairest rates, and maximize the returns from travel-related expenditure.”

HRG trends revealed Moscow as the priciest city for hotel stays, with rates climbing to 3% in local currency since 2011. It has held the top spot for eight consecutive years.

In a surprising twist, Lagos, Nigeria, was a close second. The expense is attributed to “the high volume of inbound business travel connected with the oil industry.” Security has also played a major role in the soaring price of hotel rooms. “Travelers to Lagos are also conscious of the city’s well-documented security issues and are more inclined to stay in five-star accommodation.” The survey stated.

Latin American cities haven’t fared well in the first half of 2012.  “Mexico City reported the highest increase in room rates at 30% in local currency, as growth in demand, coupled with a lack of new openings, drove an aggressive increase in average achieved rates. Across the wider Latin American region, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo reported rate increases of 15% and 23% respectively.”

All results are based on a combination of industry intelligence, actual room nights booked and rates paid during January to June 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

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