Russia export restriction on wood challenged by EU at WTO

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The EU is requesting consultations with Russia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) concerning export restrictions placed by Russia on wood products.

According to Lesprom, the EU has been trying to consult Russia since October 2020, when the export restrictions kicked in. They entered into force in 2022. The restrictions include increased export duties on certain wood products, a reduction in the number of border crossing points which wood products can be exported.

Because the restrictions can negatively affect EU wood processing industry, which relies on Russian exports, and create uncertainty in the global market, the EU will challenge Russia’s restrictions with WTO’s dispute settlement proceedings.

The EU is challenging a few aspects. First, the increase of export duties on certain wood products. At the WTO, Russia committed to applying export duties at rates of maximum 13%, or 15% for certain quantities of exports. By withdrawing these tariff-rate quotas, Russia now applies export duties at 80%, a rate which does not respect its commitments under WTO law, according to the European Commission.

Second, the reduction of border-crossing points. Lesprom reported that the Russia reduced the number from 30 to only one in Luttya, Finland. By prohibiting the use of existing border crossing points that are technically capable of handling such exports, Russia is violating a WTO principle forbidding such restrictions.

The dispute settlement consultations are the first part of WTO dispute settlement proceedings. If there are not satisfactory solutions, the EU can request that the WTO set up a panel to rule on the matter, the European Commission said.

Source: Lesprom