Russia likely to delay timber duty rise until 2011

Filed on September 19, 2009

SOCHI - Russia will probably keep timber export duties unchanged until 2011 and could even lower them, Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said on Saturday, adding that a final decision was due before November.

Russia had planned to raise export duties threefold from 2009 to boost its own timber processing industry but delayed the move until 2010, easing tensions with the European Union.

The rise was expected to hurt paper making firms in EU members Finland and Sweden, such as Europe’s top paper and board maker Stora Enso and magazine paper maker UPM-Kymmene.

Russian media have reported that the government was discussing further delays after the economic crisis made it impossible to build domestic processing facilities quickly.

‘We held talks with regional governments. Most of them think that the current level of the duty should be unchanged or even lowered,’ Nabiullina told reporters on the sidelines of an investment forum in Sochi.

‘As the draft version, the proposal is to set the level of the duty for 2010 in line with the one we have in 2009. The final decision will be taken in September or October,’ she added.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Russia could hold a ‘timber summit’ in October and invited his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen to take part.

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