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Fradkov: Russia Not Backing Down on Export Tariffs on Wood

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov says that Russia is willing to hold discussions with the European Union on planned increases in export tariffs of Russian raw timber. However, during a visit to Finland on Tuesday, he insisted that plans to impose the tariffs will not be cancelled.

Fradkov said that the planned export duties are only a part of the problems linked with the wood sector and forest industry. He noted that Russia wants to increase wood processing in its own territory and to attract foreign investors into Russia. He also said that Russia could compromise on the matter if the Finnish forest industry agrees to invest in Russia's own wood processing industry.

The Russian PM discussed the complexities of the wood trade with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. Vanhanen said that he had encouraged Russia to discuss the export tariff issue with the EU.

As Vanhanen sees it, the planned increases in export tariffs would have negative effects in Finland. He also feels that the moves violate conditions for membership with the World Trade Organisation.

The two Prime Ministers also discussed the dispute in the port of Kronstadt near St. Petersburg over a plot of land that has been leased by a Finnish company, which is running a container terminal there.

Attempts have been made to push the Finnish-owned terminal out, in order to make space for the builders of a planned flood barrier across the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland. Fradkov says that the dispute can be resolved on the basis of Russian legislation, and that the companies involved need to resolve their disputes.

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