EU Requests WTO Dispute Settlement Panel over Russia's Excessive Import Duties

Upon joining the WTO, Russia committed to keep its import duties below the limits expressed in the accession documents, but has deviated from the agreement.

March 1, 2015 - The EU on Feb. 26 requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva concerning Russia's excessive import duties on different groups of products including paper products. This request follows EU efforts to find a solution with Russia since it joined the WTO in August 2012, including through formal WTO consultations that were held in November, states the European Commission.

Upon joining the WTO, Russia committed to keep its import duties below the limits expressed in the accession documents. However, according to the opinion expressed by the EU Commission, it has continued taxing a number of products across various sectors more heavily than agreed. Currently, this is still the case for certain products of interest for the EU.

Russia deviates from what was decided at the time it was joining the WTO — it applies a higher duty rate, up to 15% instead of 5%.

The request for the establishment of a panel will be discussed for the first time at the meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on March 10. At that meeting Russia can, under the dispute settlement rules of the WTO, object to the establishment of the panel.

In case the parties don't reach any agreement the following DSB meeting will be held on March 25, Russia will be unable to block the request and, consequently, the panel will be established. The following step after the establishment of the panel is the composition of the panel by the parties and/or the WTO Director-General, by selecting three persons serving as panelists, who will then start the actual adjudication procedure.

SOURCE: FORDAQ