Russian Economic Development Ministry: EU Expansion May Cause Russian Traders Problems

'Russian traders will face a number of problems as a result of EU expansion,' believes Elena Danilova, the head of the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade's Department for Trade Policy and Multilateral Trade Talks. She made this announcement today at the 'EU Expansion: New Opportunities for Russia' conference.

Danilova said that the ministry shares the view of European exporters that EU expansion will, on the whole, have beneficial effects for Russia. 'However, the lessons of the previous wave of EU expansion suggest that Russian may also encounter some difficulties,' she stressed.

According to Danilova, the main effect of expansion will be new trade rules, and Russia's main problem will be for its traders to adapt to the changed situation. In particular, Danilova said that the switch of the ten new member countries to a single customs tariff would have a negative effect on the economic stability of Russian exporters. On average, tariffs will fall from 9% to 4%. 'However, Russian suppliers currently pay no tariffs on a certain range of goods, which will soon be subject to a 4% tariff,' Danilova added. 'This will affect exports of aluminium, fertilizers, and agricultural products.'

In addition, according to Danilova, EU rules mean that all new member countries will have to change their technical export standards. Danilova believes that this will have a particular effect on Russian agricultural exporters who currently supply products to these countries. Also, the 'situation remains unclear' concerning energy products. The ministry does not rule out unfavourable developments for Russian gas exporters.