RIGA, March 27 (Itar-Tass) —— Latvia’s Minister of Economics Daniels Pavluts has described Russia’s ban on imports of cattle from the European Union as ungrounded and predicted that a ban on imports of pigs might follow.
“I really hope this period will soon be over. There might be several reason why Russia has decided to take a more resolute protectionist position, which seems to be a populist one in respect of its own voters and producers. Russia needs Europe as much as Europe needs Russia. This is a situation of mutual dependence. That is why I don’t think Russia wants to strain relations with the European Union,” he said in an interview with the Dienas Bizness newspaper.
He expressed bewilderment at Russia’s ban, since economic relations between the two countries have been gradually improving. In his words, Latvia’s exports of live pigs to Russia have grown five-fold in the recent years. Some 77 percent of Latvia’s pigs are exported to Russia.
On March 20, Russia’s veterinarian and phytosanitary authority imposed a temporary ban on imports of cattle and pigs from European Union member countries because of an outbreak of bluetongue and Schmallenberg disease. Russia’s agricultural watchdog described “European veterinary control measures as formal and insufficient.”
Earlier, Latvia’s Foreign Ministry said that the Russian ban on imports of live cattle from the European Union ran counter to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) norms and would negatively tell on Latvian exporters. The Russian ban “will produce a considerable effect on the Latvian economy, since live pigs rank fourth in its exports to Russia. In 2011, a total of 16,300 live pigs to a total sum of 14 million lati (about 28 million U.S. dollars) were exported to Russia,” the ministry said.