By Aluta News
Jan. 21, 2022
European Union on Friday launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization to Russian export restrictions on wood products which the bloc said are illegal and harm its wood processing industry.
It is the second such EU complaint over Russia to the WTO in 2021 and came as the bloc and its western allies threaten Moscow with strong financial measures if Russian troops invade Ukraine.
The European Commission, which oversees EU trade policy, said it had repeatedly engaged with Russia since the measures were announced in October 2020, but without success.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered that exports of unprocessed valuable types of hardwood and coniferous trees be banned from the start of 2022 in a bid to support its own wood processors.
The EU takes issue with an increase of Russian export duties to 80 per cent from its WTO commitment of a maximum of 13-15 per cent for certain quantities of shipments.
In addition, the Commission said, Russia had reduced the number of border crossing points handling wood exports to the EU from more than 30 to only one, with Finland.
“The Russian restrictions are highly detrimental to the EU wood processing industry, which relies on exports from Russia, and create significant uncertainty on the global wood market,” the Commission said in a statement.
WTO challenges start with a formal period of consultations between the parties. If they do not resolve the dispute, the EU can request that a WTO panel rule on the matter.