EU asks WTO to help settle trade dispute with Russia
The European Union said Thursday it had asked the World Trade Organization to help settle a dispute with Russia over "excessive import duties" on refrigerators and other products.
The wrangling is the latest of a long line of politically-charged trade disputes between the EU and its third largest trading partner Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.
"The EU requested today the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization in Geneva concerning Russia's excessive import duties, in particular on paper products, refrigerators and palm oil," Brussels said.
The EU's request for the WTO to create a panel of experts to review the dispute comes after the two sides failed to settle the issue through consultations late last year.
Brussels is accusing Russia of not respecting commitments it made when it joined the WTO in 2012 to maintain import duties below a certain limit.
"It has continued taxing a number of products across various sectors more heavily than agreed," the EU said, adding that "this is still the case today for certain products of interest for the EU."
Brussels, which exports goods worth 120 billion euros ($135 billion) a year to Russia, said Moscow's excessive duties were costing the bloc some 600 million euros annually.
It also raises "systemic concern, as it constitutes a violation of one of the key WTO principles," it said.
The WTO dispute settlement body will evaluate the EU's panel request next month.
© 2015 AFP