EU disputes Russian restrictions on timber exports at WHO

  • 2022-01-21
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The European Union (EU) is requesting consultations with Russia at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning export restrictions placed by Russia on wood products, LETA was told at the European Commission's Representation in Latvia. 

The export restrictions consist of significantly increased export duties on certain wood products and a drastic reduction in the number of border crossing points through which exports of wood products can take place. 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 EU has repeatedly engaged with Russia since Moscow announced these measures in October 2020, without success. They entered into force in January 2022.

The EU is challenging the increase of export duties on certain wood products. At the WTO, Russia committed to applying export duties at rates of maximum 13 percent or 15 percent for certain quantities of exports. By withdrawing these tariff-rate quotas, Russia now applies export duties at a much higher rate of 80 percent, and thereby does not respect its commitments under WTO law.

The EU is also contesting the reduction of the number of border-crossing points for Russian exports of wood products into the EU.  Russia has reduced the number of border crossing points handling wood exports to the EU. 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 EU on Friday requested dispute settlement consultations, which are the first step in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. If the consultations do not lead to a satisfactory solution, the EU can request that the WTO set up a panel to rule on the matter.