Sweden Warns Russia Over Tariffs

Sweden’s Trade Minister Ewa Björling has urged Moscow to stop increasing tariffs on wood exports if Russia wanted to join the World Trade Organisation in the near future, and said thousands of jobs in Sweden were at risk.

Sweden is one of the largest paper and pulp producers in Europe and along with Finland, has reacted strongly to Russian tariff increases on wood in June 2007 and again in April this year.

Sweden and Finland say the tariff increases break the EU’s agreement with Russia on conditions for entry into the WTO.

”The latest increase was a considerable setback, but now we make a fresh effort and demand zero-tolerance toward further increases and a clear plan on how the tariffs can be removed. That is a prerequisite to avoid that Russia’s entry into the WTO is delayed and complicated,” Bjorling said in a statement.

The Trade Minister said that the Wood industry had calculated that 6,000 jobs could be at risk in Sweden if the tariffs are increased as planned, with northern Sweden being the hardest hit.