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Business

EU files for WTO settlement on Russian car import levy

The EU has dragged Russia before a settlement panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO), after Moscow refused to drop a recycling fee on imported foreign cars. The levy amounts to an illegal import duty, the EU argues.

The EU officially asked the World Trade Organization to establish a settlement panel to rule on a Russian recycling fee imposed on foreign car imports, the European Commission announced Thursday.

Under WTO procedures, the move means an escalation in the EU's trade row with Russia, and follows formal consultations on an earlier EU complaint in July.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht said that all possible avenues to find a mutually acceptable solution with Russia had been exhausted. The EU needed to act, he added, because Russia's recycling fee on car imports was estimated to reach 10 billion euros ($13.5 billion) this year, which would have a severe impact on a key European industry.

Moscow has defended the fee as necessary to cover the costs of recycling imported cars. The EU argues the levy, which amounts to between 420 and 17,000 euros for a single car, is an illegal import tax since it doesn't apply to cars made in Russia.

The EU's request for WTO to adjudicate might be joined by Japan, which also filed a trade complaint against the Russian levy in July. It is the first such challenge to Moscow's trade policy since Russia joined the WTO last year.

uhe/ccp (AFP, Reuters, dpa)