world trade center.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

The World Trade Organization (WTO) said Friday that Russia violated its rules by imposing higher than agreed import duties on paper, refrigerators and palm oil.

The WTO's ruling, which vindicates claims by the European Union, is the first against Russia since the country joined the organization in 2012.

"Following the dispute settlement procedure activated by the EU in October 2014, the WTO panel fully agreed that Russia's customs duties on paper, refrigerators and palm oil are inconsistent with its WTO commitments," the EU's executive body, the European Commission, said in a statement following the ruling.

For example, Russia imposes duties of up to 15 per cent for certain paper products, instead of the 5 per cent it agreed when it joined the WTO, the European Commission said, adding that the EU annually exports about 240 million euros' (270 million dollars') worth of paper products to Russia.

"Annual exports of palm oil are worth 50 million euros. Those of refrigerators amount to 150 million euros," the European Commission said.

Russia put such measures in place in late 2014 to retaliate against Western sanctions related to Moscow's role in the Ukraine conflict.

Russia and the EU have been struggling over several other trade issues at the WTO, including alleged hurdles for EU vehicle and pork exports, as well as Russia's complaint about access to the EU energy market.

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