Japan fights Russia car fee rule at WTO

AFP-JIJI

Japan is challenging Russia’s rules on car imports at the World Trade Organization, following a similar complaint made by the European Union, the Geneva-based body said Wednesday.

The WTO said that Tokyo had filed a formal request for consultations with Moscow over its controversial recycling fee, which applies only to imported vehicles and thereby increases their prices.

Japan claims the Russian recycling fee flouts international trade rules, the WTO said.

The EU filed its own complaint two weeks ago, in the first WTO dispute involving Russia since the country joined the global trade bloc last August.

Both Japan and the EU take issue with what they say are Russia’s attempts to disguise anti-competitive trade barriers as environmental protection.

Russia levies a recycling fee on imported and Russian-made vehicles alike, but exempts firms that commit to ensuring waste is safely handled.

But Japan and the EU say the waiver only applies to companies that are legal entities registered in Russia and which pledge to produce vehicles or parts in Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan. They say these conditions give an unfair advantage to domestic output and therefore breach international trade rules.