Expert comment on the European Commission’s decision of 21 August 2023

As one of the leading producers and suppliers of plywood to the European market, we are closely following the European Union’s legislation regarding the wood market and the marketing of wood and wood products. On 21 August 2023, the European Commission decided to open a formal investigation into the circumvention of existing anti-dumping duties by Russian birch plywood producers and European importers. As a first step, the Commission is investigating whether or not imports from Kazakhstan and Turkey, realistically originate from these two countries. And even a cursory analysis of public data indicates that the production capacity of these countries cannot account for the scale of imports currently attributed to them.

Two years ago, following a thorough anti-dumping investigation, the EU imposed duties of up to 15.8% to protect European markets from imports of cheap Russian birch plywood, which were shown to have caused serious negative effects on the EU industry. Now, evidence suggests that the anti-dumping duties imposed are simply being circumvented through ‘pole’ companies from Kazakhstan and Turkey. Therefore, today’s announcement by the European Commission gives hope that further Russian shipments of birch plywood, will not enter the Community territory of the European Union.

We welcome the fact that from 21 August 2023 all plywood imports from the aforementioned destinations will have to be registered when crossing EU borders. This registration will additionally allow the Commission to retroactively apply extended anti-dumping duties to those who have so far circumvented them. The strong reaction of the EU authorities is aimed at curbing illegal practices.

It was Paged, together with Latvijas Finieris, as part of the Woodstock consortium that were the original applicants for the initiation of anti-dumping proceedings against Russian birch plywood producers in 2020. The illegal actions of the Russian producers were confirmed during the European Commission’s 13-month anti-dumping investigation. Also the proceedings against circumvention of imposed duties, announced today, are the result of a request made by our companies.

As a company with a history spanning more than 90 years, we have a moral obligation to speak out about the importance and necessity of respecting the law and the level playing field on which any sector of a market-based and competitive economy must be based. The launch of the investigation by the European Union only confirms that we are not alone in our action.

We note that circumventing anti-dumping duties is just one of the serious charges for Russian plywood importers still present on the EU market. In addition, they are also violating sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – a ban on the import of wood products was included in the sanctions package agreed by all EU countries in March 2022.

The ban on the import of illegally logged timber and timber products of undocumented origin as defined under the European Timber Regulation (EUTR), which has been in place since 2013, should also not be forgotten. Following the aggression against Ukraine, timber from Russia and Belarus was given the status of illegal timber. As a result, timber and products made from it originating from these two countries cannot be brought in to the European Union. This regulation is being circumvented by rogue traders.

We must publicly condemn the unethical business behaviour of companies that do not obey the law for their own profits.  We are counting on this comprehensive approach by the European Union to prevent support for the illegal activities of companies that both get rich by breaking the law, and financially support the military actions against Ukraine.

Jarosław Michniuk
CEO of Paged Wood Companies

Useful links:

Press release from the Woodstock Consortium

Website of the Woodstock Consortium

Extract from the European Union Monitor with the notice of initiation

Media contact:

Magdalena Kicińska
Kierownik ds. Komunikacji w Paged Wood
+48 725 520 874