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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finland, Russia Tackle Trade and Traffic

ria-novostiZubkov welcoming his Finnish counterpart, Matti Vanhanen. They met to discuss energy, forestry and technology.
The prime ministers of Russia and Finland on Tuesday hailed growing trade and discussed efforts to ease one of its annoying byproducts -- traffic jams at their border.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen discussed cooperation in energy, forestry and the high-tech sector. Vanhanen expressed concern about rising Russian export duties on raw timber, a measure aimed to increase processing internally.

Zubkov said he and Vanhanen also discussed ways to improve operations at crossing points on the countries' 1,300-kilometer border, where long lines of trucks are regularly backed up.

Vanhanen said the problem was a result of increasing trade, RIA-Novosti reported. He said the number of trucks crossing the border every year was approaching 1 million. Zubkov said the volume of bilateral trade had more than tripled since 2000 and was expected to reach about 15 billion euros ($22 billion) this year, Itar-Tass reported.

Vanhanen said increasing Russian timber export duties were "a painful issue" for Finland, Itar-Tass reported, and Interfax quoted him as saying he hoped for a compromise. Russia hiked export duties on raw timber in July as part of a phased increase, under which the duty in some cases will reach 80 percent of the value of the goods exported, Interfax reported. Finland's wood-processing mills account for more than 15 percent of its gross domestic product and rely on Russia for about one-fifth of their timber, Interfax reported.