Sweden Sets New Bar to WTO Entry



Sweden said it planned to send the European Commission a letter Monday raising new objections to Russia 's membership in the World Trade Organization, a Swedish government official said. The complaint involves export duties imposed by Russia on timber and pulp, in particular birch, contrary to earlier commitments, the official said.

"We feel from the Swedish perspective this issue has to be dealt with. It needs to be solved before we are fully able to welcome Russia into the WTO," the official said in a telephone call. The official added that Sweden "looks forward to having Russia as a member of the WTO". Russia is negotiating in Geneva for entry into the WTO, possibly next year, and the Commission represents the members of the EU, which include Sweden .

Russia has tried to boost local wood processing rather than exporting raw materials by imposing duty on coniferous timber. In March 2006, it increased the duty on coniferous timber to 4 euros ($5.40) per cubic meter. The amount was increased on July 1 to 10 euros, next year it will go to 25 euros and it will jump again in 2009, the official said. According to official statistics, Russia accounts for 22 percent of the world's forests, and its timber reserves total 82.1 billion cubic meters.