A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel ruled on 12 August that Russian import duties on palm oil, paper and refrigerators have violated its rules, the first time the WTO has ruled against Russia since it joined the body in August 2012.

The decision follows the EU requesting the WTO to rule on the issue in October 2014.

The panel concluded that Russia’s import duties on the three products exceeded the WTO ‘bound rates’ it could impose.

In the case of palm oil products, “Russia has a bound rate of 3% yet applied an alternative duty of ‘3%, but not less than €0.09/kg’ at the date of the panel's establishment”, the European Commission (EC) said in a press release.

The EC said the EU’s annual exports of palm oil to Russia were worth €50M; those of refrigerators amounted to €150M/year and paper products exports were worth €240M/year.

Russia had already brought some of the challenged measures into compliance in the course of the panel proceedings, the EC said. The country had 60 days to appeal and if no appeal was filed, then the panel report would be adopted and Russia had to bring its duties in line with WTO rules.

“The EU has initiated dispute settlement procedures on a number of other trade barriers imposed by Russia, such as recycling fees on cars, a ban on the import of pigs and pork, and anti-dumping duties on light commercial vehicles,” the EC added. “These other procedures are ongoing.”