WTO to review EU case against Russian measures on state enterprises

A World Trade Organization body agreed on Monday to set up a panel to examine a trade challenge brought by the European Union against Russia over measures it says restrict EU firms from selling goods to Russian state-owned enterprises, a WTO official said.

The European Commission, which oversees trade for the 27-member EU, has said that Russia since 2015 has gradually expanded restrictions aimed at replacing foreign goods and services in procurement contracts. [nL1N2OV1HQ

The Commission has argued that this has happened through a mixture of restrictions including minimum quotas for domestic products and price preferences for state-related entities.

Russia has expressed confidence that its measures fully comply with its WTO obligations.

Brussels submitted its first request for a panel at the WTO dispute settlement body last month but Russia used its veto right to block it. WTO member states can only block a panel request once.

Typically, it takes about 45 days to appoint a panel and then a report is due within 6-9 months. However, many recent rulings have been delayed beyond that timeframe.

Either of the parties may appeal the findings but, since the WTO’s top appeals body is paralysed, this would slip into a legal void.