MOSCOW — The Russian Parliament approved the country’s entry into the World Trade Organization on Tuesday, bringing nearly to a close the country’s 18-year effort to join the global trade group.
The other members of the W.T.O. had agreed to Russia’s entry in December, but acceptance required a vote of the lower house of Parliament, known as the Duma. That had been assumed to be routine, because President Vladimir V. Putin’s governing party, United Russia, controls the chamber. But the Communist Party was unusually vocal in its opposition, even staging a small street protest outside the building Tuesday.
Russia negotiated longer than any other major country to join the trade group, beginning soon after the fall of Communism. Talks continued for 18 years, with many setbacks and false dawns.
Russia’s economy minister, Andrei Belousov, warned lawmakers on Tuesday that the agreement reached last autumn would expire if they did not ratify it before a mid-July deadline. Renegotiating the deal with all members of the W.T.O. would take years more, he said.
The Duma voted 238-208 in favor of joining, with one abstention.
To take effect, the ratification must be approved by the upper house next week, and signed into law by Mr. Putin; then, after a final 30-day waiting period, Russia will become a W.T.O. member.
For years, Russian opponents of membership have said that Russia, in contrast with China, which joined a decade ago, had little to gain from membership. It will require Russia to lower customs duties on imported manufactured goods like clothes or consumer electronics, while offering little in return.
Nations importing Russian raw materials like oil and natural gas rarely impose customs duties.
The World Bank, though, has estimated the increased exposure to competition for Russian businesses will improve their effectiveness and hence that of the Russian economy over all, resulting in growth in gross domestic product of as much as 11 percent.
As in other developing markets, agriculture will suffer, Elena V. Sakhnova, a senior analyst at VTB Capital bank in Moscow, said by telephone.
Importers will profit, but consumers will benefit most, she said. Long deprived of the simplest consumer goods, and at times, in the Soviet period, of nutritious food, Russian consumers are on the cusp of a new era of inexpensive imported products.
While most consumer goods are available in Russia, prices are often higher than elsewhere in Europe because of higher customs duties; that will change as W.T.O. rules phase in.
Investors could benefit from buying shares in foreign companies active in the Russian market, Kingsmill Bond, the chief strategist at Citi for the Russian market, wrote in a research note published Tuesday.
These include Danone, the French dairy giant, and Carlsberg, the Danish beer maker, Mr. Bond wrote.
The formalization of Russia’s membership, likely in about a month, is also the deadline for the U.S. Congress to repeal a Cold War-era trade restriction intended to ensure the Soviet Union allowed religious emigration, principally to Israel. Russia and Israel now have visa-free travel.
If the Jackson-Vanik Amendment is not repealed, Russia would not be required to grant U.S. companies the same W.T.O. benefits as competitors from other countries.R Soft Web Hosting