EU lodges WTO complaint against Russia over increasing import tariffs

EU lodges WTO complaint against Russia over increasing import tariffs
The European Union has filed a complaint against Russia with the World Trade Organization (WTO) contesting Russia’s heavy import duties on paper products, refrigerators, freezers, and palm oil.

The EU claims that Russia is charging higher tariffs than it promised a violation of the World Trade Organization agreement. If Russia doesn’t address the issue within 60 days, the EU can ask the WTO to give a ruling on the case.

“Russia diverges from what was decided at the time it joined the WTO in two ways: either it applies a higher duty rate, e. g. 15 percent instead of 5 percent, or it fixes a minimum amount that needs to be paid even if not justified by the agreed duty rate expressed in a percentage of the product value,” the EU’s press release, posted Friday, says.

The EU said the higher duties have a “clear negative impact” on EU paper, refrigerators, and palm oil that are being taxed. Each year these exports are worth €600 million.

It is the third complaint brought by the EU against Russia since it joined the WTO, and the fifth case involving both Russia and the EU.

Relations between the EU and Russia have been fragile since the Ukraine crisis started, and trade is being used in the diplomatic quarrel. In August Russia banned all EU produce in response to Western sanctions which aim at hitting the Russian economy.

Russia is the EU’s third largest trading partner worth $440 billion between the two last year. Geographic proximity makes the two natural trading partners in machinery, transport equipment, chemicals, medicines and agricultural products.
Russia joined the WTO in August 2012 after nearly two decades of back and forth negotiations on the conditions for entry.