The European Union (EU) requested consultations with Russia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 20 January regarding Russian export restrictions on timber products.

The export restrictions consist of a significant increase in export duties applicable to certain timber products and a drastic reduction in the number of border crossing points through which exports of timber products can pass.

Since Moscow announced these measures in October 2020, the EU has repeatedly sought talks with Russia without success. Now the measures have come into force in January 2022.

Specifically, the EU lodged a complaint on the following points:

  • Increase in export duties on certain wood products.

Under the WTO, Russia committed itself to applying tariffs of a maximum of 13 per cent or 15 per cent on certain export volumes. By withdrawing these tariff quotas, Russia is now introducing significantly higher export duties in the order of 80 per cent, in violation of its obligations under WTO law.

  • Reduction in the number of border crossing points for Russian exports of timber products to the EU

Russia has reduced the number of border crossing points through which timber exports to the EU take place from over 30 to just one, Luttya in Finland. By prohibiting the use of existing border posts that are technically capable of handling such exports, Russia is violating a WTO principle that prohibits such restrictions.

The dispute settlement consultations requested by the EU are the first step of the WTO dispute settlement procedure. If they do not lead to a satisfactory solution, the EU can request the establishment of a WTO panel to decide on the substance of the dispute.

Reference DIHK(Germany), Monday, 31/01/2022