Brussels claims Russian import ban of European products in response to EU sanctions on Moscow is illegal

Moscow and Brussels are set to start consultations regarding the EU’s claims against the Russian import substitution policy in September, TASS reports, citing a source in the European Commission.

The European Commission initiated a probe within the WTO (World Trade Organization) in July regarding Russian government procurement rules infringing upon the rights of European producers. The start of the first phase of the proceedings [in the form of] bilateral consultations is set for September 13,” the source reportedly said.

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EU officials say Russia’s import-substitution policy, which came as a response to unilateral sanctions against Russia introduced by both the EU and the US over the Ukraine conflict in 2014, violates the WTO trade policy as it allegedly favors domestic products and services provided by domestic entities over foreign ones.

Consultations will reportedly last two months. If no decision is reached within that time frame, a WTO panel of arbitrators will have to step in.

Although the trade turnover between Russia and the European Union plunged 21% last year, Russia remains the EU’s fifth-largest trade partner, covering 4.8% of the bloc’s total trade in goods in 2020, according to the European Commission’s data. Last year, 36.5% of Russia’s imports came from European states.

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The total trade in goods between the EU and Russia in 2020 amounted to $204.9 billion. Among Russia’s main imports from the EU were machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, manufactured goods, agriculture and raw materials.

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