WTO to weigh in on EU-Russia import quarrels
GENEVA (AFP) – The World Trade Organization (WTO) will appoint experts to examine a complaint brought by the European Union (EU) against Russia over allegations that its state-owned enterprises disadvantage imports from the bloc, a said a Geneva-based trade official on Monday.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body on Monday, the source said.
Brussels first launched the dispute last July, and after consultations between the two sides broke down, last month called on a panel of WTO experts to rule on it.
Moscow blocked this first request, but under WTO rules, second requests are basically granted automatically.
Brussels accuses Russia of devising measures that seriously disadvantage EU companies when selling goods and services to Russian state-owned companies and other entities through public procurement, which it says called it a violation of international trade rules.
The EU said a lot of business was at stake, pointing out that Russian state-owned companies had issued tenders worth around 290 billion euros in 2019, or around one-fifth of gross domestic product ( GDP) of Russia.
Russia said it regretted the EU’s decision to request the establishment of a panel, insisting that its measures were in line with its WTO obligations.
The two sides now have 20 days to agree on which experts should sit on the panel. If they don’t, the task will be left to WTO chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
WTO panels can take several years to render their rulings.