Provisional Anti-Dumping Duties on Russian Birch Plywood

In its 2020 investigation into the Russian forest and wood products market, the Commission had already noted that the country systematically applies export restrictions to wood and wood materials in order to change production and export patterns and to ensure a greater degree of wood processing in the country. In addition, timber industry has been supported by export and production expansion subsidies.

Following a 7-month in-depth investigation which in turn had been prompted by a formal complaint from the Woodstock Consortium, the European Commission determined that Russian exporters were in fact selling birch plywood products in the EU at less than fair value. This conclusion was reached after an investigation in which the entire industry, including key Russian producers, cooperated. The EU decided on 11 June 2021 to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of Russian birch plywood provisionally until the end of the year while it concludes the investigation. The implementing regulation can be found here.

The Commission’s independent findings confirm that:

  • Russian exporting producers, supported by broad government programmes, sold massive volumes of birch plywood into the EU at dumped prices.
  • This allowed Russian exporting producers to reach unprecedented market share of 56 % during the investigation period (up from 46 % in 2017) – essentially handing those producers control of this market unfairly.
Imports of birch plywood from Russia recorded a 37% increase over the period considered. The Russian market share increased from 46 % to 56 %, an increase of 20 %.

Source: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/940 of 10 June 2021 imposing a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of birch plywood originating in Russia, para. 89.
  • Although European consumption increased in the same period, the Union industry was denied the benefits of an expanding market. If anything, its economic situation was shown to worsen.

EU Birch Plywood Industry Is Clearly Injured Due to Dumped Imports from Russia

EU industry’s production volume, profitability and EU sales and market share dropped significantly during the investigation period due to the dumping of Russian birch plywood.

Source: Chart based on data provided in the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/940 of 10 June 2021 imposing a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of birch plywood originating in Russia, para. 106, 110 and 126.
  • Facing increasing costs and price pressures exerted by the Russian dumped imports, the EU industry was precluded from setting sustainable prices, which resulted in a significant drop in profitability from 10 % to negative territory and losses at -3 % in the period investigated.
The profitability of the EU producers collapsed throughout from almost 10 % in 2017 to close to -3 % in the investigation period due to the dumping of Russian birch plywood.

Source: Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/940 of 10 June 2021 imposing a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of birch plywood originating in Russia, para. 126.

Why it Matters

The Woodstock Consortium welcomed the decision of the European Commission.

  • Anti-dumping duties constitute a crucial step towards offsetting the effects of sustained and continuous dumping practices by Russian producers, giving EU producers a chance to regain a sustainable playing field on the EU market – rather than in the long run be forced out of business.
  • The EU’s action will now ensure that European customers will continue to have a wide range of options when it comes to who they buy from. If instead Russian dumping were to destroy Europe’s industry, European customers would be left dependent on what Russian suppliers decide. Customers will lose the choice they currently have – and it would be a supplier’s market.
  • The anti-dumping duties now envisaged do not aim to eliminate Russian imports, but instead will readjust what have been sustained unfair prices.

Next Steps

Provisional duties ranging from 15% to 15,9% are in force until the end of this year while the Commission completes its investigation. A final decision on the definitive longer-term duties is expected in early December 2021. The Woodstock Consortium continues to make the voice of the European birch plywood industry heard and will do everything in its power to support the Commission in its evidence-based investigation. Together, we will remain watchful of any attempt by Russian exporting producers to circumvent the provisional duties.

Useful Links

Commission implementing regulation (EU) 2021/940 of 10 June 2021 imposing a provisional anti-dumping duty on imports of birch plywood originating in Russia

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32021R0940&from=EN

Commission staff document on significant distortions in the economy of the Russian Federation for the purposes of trade defence investigations (2020)

https://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2020/october/tradoc_158997.pdf