Finnish forest products firm Stora Enso has said resolving the roundwood export duty issue between Russia and the EU was “critical”, after announcing year-on-year growth in the second quarter.

Group sales were up from €3.6bn in 2006 to €3.8bn in 2007, with operating profit almost doubling year-on-year to €216.7m and pre-tax profit increasing threefold to €164.2m, while Stora Enso’s wood products division showed strong results.

Wood product deliveries in the quarter reached 1.8 billion m3, with wood product sales up to €530.7m and second operating profit rising from €14.9m in 2006 to €57.8m.

However, chief executive officer Jouko Karvinen said the company had experienced problems with supply following last year’s short winter and continued to face issues resulting from the weak US dollar, adding that resolving the Russian roundwood export duty was key to the continued success of the Finnish wood market.

“The Stora Enso group has continued its year-on-year impovement trend in the second quarter of 2007, under very challenging conditions,” said Mr Karvinen.

Speaking about the Russian export duty issue, he added: “[A resolution] is critical, not only to avoid further standstills at our mills; shortage of wood has increased the wood costs to such a level that the Finnish wood market’s competitiveness is at a serious risk.”

Looking to the rest of the year, Stora Enso said that it expected the wood market to stabilise “after an exceptionally strong first half of 2007”.