Will Finland delay Russian entry into WTO?

Russian export restrictions on round timber remains an obstacle to the country’s entry into the WTO, the EU’s Trade Commissioner maintains.


The statement made by Commissioner Karel de Gucht this week supports the Finnish view that Russia should not be allowed to boost its export tariffs on round timber. Finland has for several years worked for Russia’s cancelling of its announced tariff increase, and last year managed to get a postponement of the new policy.

Still, Russia soon intends to proceed with the measure, which the authorities believe will help stimulate domestic processing. Finland is a major importer of Russian round timber and the country’s powerful timber processing industry is dependent on deliveries from the neighboring country.

Read also: Russia to keep timber export tax

According to Reuters, Commissioner de Gucht underlined that Russia’s restrictions on timber exports are the biggest stumbling block to the country’s joining the trade organization. “Russia is pushing for early entry… The end of next year, I would consider that to be early entry,” he said, adding that timber was “the main outstanding sticking point”.

Late 2011 is almost a year later than hoped for by the Russian side. Finland is likely to be one of the key proponents of the position voiced by Commissioner de Gucht.

The timber issue was on the agenda in yesterday’s meeting between Finland’s Foreign Trade and Development Minister Paavo Väyrynen and the Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina, a press release from the Russian ministry confirms. As reported by BarentsObserver, Finnish President is currently on a state visit to Russia. With her are both Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister Väyryne.