EU seeks WTO aid over Russian fridge duties

The European Union is asking the Geneva-based World Trade Organization to help settle a dispute with Russia over "excessive import duties" on refrigerators and other products.

EU seeks WTO aid over Russian fridge duties
Photo: WTO

The wrangling is the latest of a long line of politically-charged trade disputes between the EU and its third largest trading partner Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.
"The EU requested today the establishment of a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization in Geneva concerning Russia's excessive import duties, in particular on paper products, refrigerators and palm oil," Brussels said on Thursday.
The EU's request for the WTO to create a panel of experts to review the dispute comes after the two sides failed to settle the issue through consultations late last year.
Brussels is accusing Moscow of not respecting commitments it made when Russia joined the WTO in 2012 to maintain import duties below a certain limit.
"It has continued taxing a number of products across various sectors more heavily than agreed," the EU said, adding that "this is still the case today for certain products of interest for the EU."
Brussels, which exports goods worth €120 billion ($135 billion) a year to Russia, said Moscow's excessive duties were costing the bloc some €600 million annually.

It also raises "systemic concern, as it constitutes a violation of one of the key WTO principles," it said.

The WTO dispute settlement body will evaluate the EU's panel request next month.

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Scandal-hit Kaspersky to move infrastructure from Russia to Switzerland

Russian anti-virus software firm Kaspersky Lab, which is suspected by US authorities of helping the Kremlin's espionage efforts, said Tuesday it was moving its core infrastructure and operations to Switzerland.

Scandal-hit Kaspersky to move infrastructure from Russia to Switzerland
US government workers were last year ordered to stop using Kaspersky anti-virus software. Photo: AFP

The transfer “includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates,” said Kaspersky, whose software protects some 400 million computers worldwide.

Read also: Why a Zurich lawyer is being targeted in Russiagate

“To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland,” it added.

The move follows controversy in the United States last year when the federal government removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors, weeks after senior US intelligence agency and law enforcement officials expressed concerns about the safety of its software.

US government workers were ordered to stop using Kaspersky anti-virus software.

Kaspersky denied that its products had “backdoors” which would allow Russian intelligence agencies to spy on computers using its software, and said it would take measures to reassure customers about the safety of its products.

By the end of this year, the production of its anti-virus software will be shifted to Zurich and a data centre will be built there next year where information on most non-Russian customers will be stored.

Development and data storage for the Russian market will remain in Russia, a Kaspersky executive told the AFP news agency.