By Tom Miles
GENEVA Nov 26 Russia has recently taken "a
surge of protectionist measures", some of which break global
trade rules, the European Union said on Monday, citing in
particular a ban on imports of live animals from the EU and a
recycling fee on imported vehicles.
"The EU is in active consultations with Russia to solve
these issues," an EU diplomat told a meeting of the World Trade
Organization's Goods Council, according to a transcript provided
However, Russia had refused to make progress on a ban on the
import of pigs for slaughter from the EU it put in place on
March 20, which the EU said was disproportionate and had a
A recycling fee, ranging from 420 euros ($540) for imported
small cars to 150,000 euros for heavy construction vehicles,
also seemed to break WTO rules because it discriminated against
importers, the EU official said.
Ukraine, which is part of a customs union with Russia, is
planning to adopt a similar recycling fee, and should reconsider
the move because it is incompatible with the rules, the EU said.
The EU's criticism of the recycling fee was backed by Japan
and the United States, while Norway expressed concern over
Russia's system of permits subject to veterinary control,
according to an official who was present at the meeting.
"There are also a number of other areas where the EU has
questions or doubts about the faithful implementation of
Russia's obligations under the WTO," the EU diplomat said.
Russia joined the WTO in August after a marathon 19-year
wait. It still has not appointed an ambassador and many trade
diplomats are divided over whether it will take some years to
get fully up to speed, as China did, or swiftly become embroiled
in trade disputes with its biggest trading partner, the EU.
A Russian government source told Reuters in September Moscow
was likely to challenge the EU at the WTO over restrictions on
Gazprom's control of its European gas pipeline assets.
Meanwhile, Russia's trade relations with the United States
remain outside the WTO rules, since the United States has not
yet passed a law needed to normalise trade relations with
Russia's accession to the WTO was bogged down for years,
with targets and deadlines repeatedly put back until the
stalemate gave way to a sudden breakthrough in mid-2011.
The deal to let Russia join has been widely questioned, both
by foreigners who suspect Russia was pandered to with lenient
membership terms and by Russians who think global trade
standards will be tough medicine for Russia's creaking economy.
Among those warning gains from membership will follow an
early bout of pain is President Vladimir Putin, who said last
week that the initial period would require "a serious adjustment
of the economy".