Geneva: The World Trade Organization on today set up a body to rule on a raging trade dispute between Brussels and Moscow over duties imposed on European vehicles in Russia.
The Geneva-based WTO said it had set up a panel to rule on the feud part of a raft of politically tinged trade conflicts between the EU and Russia that have been given an added edge during the Ukraine crisis.
Brussels objects to anti-dumping duties that Moscow has imposed on so-called "light commercial vehicles" made in Germany and Italy, both leading global players in the auto sector.
The EU launched its challenge in May, but Russia had until today to stop the panel being created. The WTO is an international body that oversees respect for the rules of global commerce.
The 160 economies which make up the WTO are allowed to levy extra customs duties when goods are being "dumped" on them -- sold at below market prices to grab business.
But they are also required to show that their domestic producers are suffering as a result of dumping, and that they are not simply imposing duties to protect local companies from foreign competition.
The EU insists that the duties of nearly 30 percent are smothering the Russian market for such vehicles, but Moscow rejects any wrongdoing.
Brussels and Moscow are also wrangling at the WTO over Russian embargoes on a string of goods from ex-communist countries, several of which are now members of the 28-nation EU.
Since joining the WTO, Russia has imposed bans on dairy products, chocolates, wine and meat from countries including Lithuania, Poland, Moldova and Ukraine.
Today, Russia said it will ban European Union meat products including pork, chicken and beef fats and offal in the latest move in the tit-for-tat trade spat.