Washington International Law Journal


Faced with economic decline following the Soviet Union's collapse, Russia is energetically seeking ways to develop its economy and stimulate trade. In order to accomplish these goals, Russia has taken a number of steps to improve its interactions with its trading partners and reform its internal economic structures. Among the most sweeping areas of change are Russia's steps toward bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements and the proposed changes to its Forest Code. Externally, Russia has signed an agreement with China to stabilize relations, increase trade, and address shared environmental concerns, and has taken steps toward membership in the World Trade Organization ("WTO"). Internal reforms include revising Russia's Forest Code to enhance the productivity of the Russian forest sector, encourage investment, and discourage the problems of wasteful production and illegal logging. Unfortunately, this simultaneous reform effort may be too ambitious. Given Russia's underdeveloped institutions and proclivity for corruption, Russia's new Forest Code may exacerbate rather than solve some of the problems it is designed to address, particularly that of illegal logging in the Russian Far East. Russia should take steps to ensure the protection of its Far Eastern forest resources from illegal exploitation prior to exposing them to the full effects of the regional and global free markets.

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