(08/03/2012 / sha)

Finnish forest industry: Russia's WTO membership opens opportunities

Russia's ratification of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) accession agreement on July 21 improves corporate access to the Russian market. Membership will lead to lower export duties on Russian raw timber and reduced import duties will improve the position of Finnish forest industry products on the Russian market.

Russia's WTO membership will enter into force within 30 days, once the World Trade Organisation processes and approves the accession agreement now ratified by the Russians. Membership will immediately cut timber export duties and thus lower the cost of exporting raw timber from Russia to Finland. The euro amount of the softwood export duty will be halved and hardwood duties will be cut to one quarter of their present amount. Pine and spruce will in future be imported to the EU market and Finland as part of a quota totalling 9.5 million m3.

Some EUR 190 million's worth of raw timber was imported to Finland from Russia last year. If applied to the present makeup of imports, the revised duties would cut the Finnish forest industry's annual wood procurement costs by about EUR 20 million.

The import duties Russia levies on paper and paperboard products will reduce by 5% over a four-year transition period. Lower duties will improve the position of Finnish forest industry products in relation to local goods in the growing Russian market.

Last year's Finnish paper and paperboard exports to Russia were valued at EUR 490 million. Applied to the present structure of trade, the revised customs charges would cut import duties by about EUR 30 million after the transition period.