Russia WTO Accession: Russian Duma Passes Vehicle Utilization Fee That Could Discriminate Against Imported Vehicles


On 13 July 2012, the Russian Duma passed a law imposing a "utilization fee" on cars, which may have the effect of discriminating against imported cars. The Utilization Fee Law imposes a fee on vehicles imported into Russia and on those cars manufactured or assembled in Russia. While the Utilization Fee Law is purportedly being passed to address environmental concerns, it provides for certain exceptions which may have the effect of protecting Russian car manufacturers, as well as foreign companies assembling cars in Russia. Pursuant to its WTO accession commitments, Russia will have to reduce import tariffs on cars, and the Russian industry is concerned about the likely increase of imports. The amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 September 2012 after they are approved by the Federation Council of the Parliament and signed by the President.

According to the Utilization Fee Law, the utilization fee is being introduced "to ensure environmental safety" and to address the costs associated with the disposal of vehicles that are no longer operational. Specifically, the Russian government will disburse the accumulated utilization fees to entities involved in the disposal of vehicles to defray their expenses under conditions and in the amounts yet to be determined by the Russian government.

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