Europe hits the news headlines with increasing frequency these days. In addition to the faltering economy, domestic politics supply ample doses of uncertainty, testy intra-EU relations, and mounting social tensions. For businesses exposed to the European political and economic cycles, five potential risks stand out for 2014: deflation, a gas war, a third recession, a breakdown in trade negotiations, and political gridlock.
On August 22, 2012, after 18 years of negotiations, Russia became the 156th formal member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). With the world’s ninth largest market, a $1.9 trillion economy, and—with a population of 140 million—Europe’s number one consumer market, Russia was the largest economy in the world that was not a member of that august international trade governing body. As part of its accession package, Russia agreed to implement a host of economic reforms that will further open the country’s markets to the goods and services of its WTO trading partners, ensure greater respect for the rule of law, better protect intellectual property rights, and safeguard foreign investors.