European Union urges Russia not to raise export duties on timber
BRUSSELS, Belgium — European Union officials urged Russia on Tuesday to reconsider an increase in duties on raw timber exported to EU nations, warning that the decision would hurt Moscow’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.
Russian authorities said Tuesday the country is raising its tax on exports to 25 percent, or 15 euros ($23.72) per cubic meter, Russian media reported. The old rate stood at 20 percent, or 10 euros ($15.81) per cubic meter.
Russia is increasing its duties to bolster its national wood processing sector.
EU spokesman Peter Power said the European Commission was dismayed by Russia’s decision, but he said EU and Russian negotiators were close to a deal to resolve the dispute.
Russia needs to seal a deal with all the members of the World Trade Organization in order to join.
Wood processing companies, especially those in Finland, Sweden and some Baltic nations will be most affected by the higher duties, officials said.
Finland depends on imported Russian wood for its paper and pulp industries. On Friday, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen appealed to his Russian counterpart, Viktor Zubkov, for a quick solution to the dispute.
Over the last 15 years, Finnish companies have invested about 1 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the Russian forest sector.
The Finnish Forest Industries Federation has described the Russian tariff increase as "a serious threat to Finnish companies’ plans to expand wood processing."