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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EC: Export Woes Exaggerated

Russia, which has complained bitterly about lack of access for its goods to foreign markets, is overstating the impact of European Community efforts to limit Russian exports, an EC official in Moscow said Thursday.

Hansjorg Kretschmer, deputy head of the EC's Moscow delegation, said in an interview that less than 1 percent of the value of all Russian exports to EC countries are affected by anti-dumping measures either in place or under consideration.

"It's a bit overdramatized", Kretschmer said of Russian complaints about EC trade barriers.

After strong protests from domestic industries recently, the EC imposed and began considering a series of punitive tariffs on Russian exports, including pig iron, fish, aluminum, and a variety of fertilizers and chemicals.

In March, the EC tried to limit imports of Russian fish by restricting landing rights of Russian fishing vessels.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Shokhin was just one of several top ministers to complain that the EC and the United States, which has increased import duties on uranium and banned imports of some fertilizers, were discriminating against Russian exports. In the Vancouver summit, President Boris Yeltsin also pressed the issue with U. S. President Bill Clinton. They have called on Western officials to let Russia boost its exports, particularly in high-technology equipment.

A Russian official from the Foreign Trade Ministry, who asked not to be named, agreed with Kretschmer's figure of 1 percent. But he added that the impact to Russia of lost investment and lost opportunities was greater than the small percentage would indicate.

Foreign investors in Russia can often only realize investment returns through exports of Russian products. Limiting export markets could keep investors away, the official said.

In addition, Russian exports of aluminum to the EC are expected to hit $300 million this year, the official said. But EC trade barriers, if enacted, could force production declines and layoffs at Russian aluminum plants.

Vladimir Kiselyov, deputy head of the economic department of the Foreign Trade Ministry, said Thursday that exports to the EC amounted to $17. 3 billion in 1992, consisting mainly of oil, gas, coal, timber and metals. Aluminum and fish, two of the exports threatened by anti-dumping sanctions, make up only a small part of Russian exports, he said.

Total exports dropped to $42 billion in 1992, down from $51 billion 1991, said Kiselyov.

Kretschmer said Russia and the EC will hold the fourth round of talks in a few weeks on a new trade agreement.

"Russia is interested in liberalizing the import regime as much as possible", he said. But "given the current economic situation in the community, especially in the most sensitive sectors, the community certainly has not unlimited margin to maneuver".

Kretschmer said the EC is also reviewing Russian uranium exports to the EC.

But the foreign trade ministry official said the review could lead to a new trade barrier. He said he has learned that the EC could "in the nearest future ask for restrictions of supply of uranium".