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GENEVA, July 20. /TASS/. Six countries have expressed their willingness to participate in the World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitration on Russia’s claim to the European Union (EU) regarding Third Energy Package. The decision on establishing an arbitral group for consideration of the issue was taken at Russia’s request by the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in Geneva on Monday.
Brazil, India, China, the US, Ukraine and Japan have joined the lawsuit as "the third party", TASS correspondent reported with reference to informed sources. Pursuant to the rules, other states may follow suit within the nearest 10 days.
The status of "the third party" does not mean those countries will support Russia or the European Union though they’re just willing to be aware of the issue as it is of interest to them, a representative of the WTO press service told TASS. They will have access to "information and documents," he said.
Russia filed its WTO complaint over the EU Third Energy Package last April. Moscow believes that its provisions run counter to the European Union’s commitments in the WTO on the basic principles of non-discrimination and market access. According to this document, companies involved in natural gas production cannot own major pipelines located on the territory of EU member-countries. They must either sell their assets to the EU or transfer the right to operate the pipelines to independent companies in the European Union.
At the previous meeting of the DSB on June 19, the EU rejected Russia’s inquiry in the WTO on establishment of an arbitral group. The decision was made on Monday as according to the Organization’s rules, a party against which a complaint is filed has the right to block a request on forming an arbitral group on one occasion. At the next consideration the decision on establishing the group is taken automatically.
Russia and the EU should now appoint 3 arbiters into this group from the list proposed by the WTO Secretariat, spokesman of the World Trade Organization Joseph Bosch told TASS. They have 20 days for that, while if the sides do not reach an agreement the WTO’s General Director will appoint arbiters within a 10-days period. After the panel of arbiters is formed it has "at least 6 months for studying claims and preparing the report," Bosch said, adding though that this may take more time if there is much work. In case any side does not agree to the final report of the arbitral group it may appeal to the Appellate Body of the WTO, which has 3 months for taking decision, though it may also need more time. That’s why in case of an appeal the whole period of claim consideration starting from founding of arbitral group, may take a couple of years, spokesman said.
To date, Russia has filed three complaints against the EU at the WTO. The first complaint (filed in December 2013) related to energy adjustment tariffs, the second (filed in April 2014) - the EU Third Energy Package. The third complaint was filed in May, it addresses the issues related to the anti-dumping measures imposed by the European Union on several items imported from Russia, including ammonium nitrate and steel products.
In its turn, Brussels has applied to the World Trade Organization with four suits against Moscow. The first investigation was launched in 2013 regarding utilization fee for cars made abroad, while in April 2014 the European Union filed a lawsuit against Russia with relation to ban on pork imports from Europe. The third suit was tied with Russia’s antidumping import customs duties on light commercial vehicles from Germany and Italy. The fourth claim launched in October 2014 relates to the EU complaints on the size of Russia’s duties on paper, refrigerators and palm oil imports.
Russia joined the WTO in August 2012 following 19 years of negotiations.