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Home News Japan takes Russia car import dispute to WTO

Japan takes Russia car import dispute to WTO

Published on 24/07/2013

Japan has launched a challenge against Russia's rules on car imports at the World Trade Organization, in the wake of a similar complaint by the European Union, the Geneva-based body said on Wednesday.

The WTO said that Tokyo had filed a formal request for consultations with Moscow over Russia’s controversial recycling fee, which applies only to imported vehicles and thereby increases their costs.

Japan claims that the Russian recycling fee flouts international trade rules, the WTO noted.

The EU filed its own complaint two weeks ago, in the first WTO dispute involving Russia since the country joined the global trade bloc in August 2012.

Both Japan and the EU take issue with what they charge are Russia’s attempts to disguise anti-competitive trade barriers as environmental protection.

Russia levies a recycling fee on imported and Russian-made vehicles alike, but exempts companies which commit to ensure that waste is safely handled.

But Japan and the EU say the waiver only applies to companies which are legal entities registered in Russia and which pledge to produce vehicles or parts in Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan.

Russia’s adversaries say that these conditions give an unfair advantage to domestic output and therefore breach international trade rules.

Under the 159-nation WTO’s rules, requesting consultations is the first step in a complex trade dispute settlement process which can last for several years.

In the event that the WTO’s disputes settlement body finds in Japan and the EU’s favour, it can also authorise retaliatory trade measures against Russia if Moscow failed to fall into line.