STRASBOURG, October 8 (Itar-Tass) - The European Union's trade chief, Karel De Gucht, said on Tuesday that the European Commission might summon Russia’s permanent representatives at the European Union for explanations over the ban Russia had imposed on imports of Lithuanian dairy products.
He said that Moscow should be given to understand that plunging into disputes with any of the European Union member states it was plunging in a dispute with the entire European Union.
At the same time, he noted that before appealing to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over violations of trade agreements, it was necessary to clarify the situation, to collect proof and statistical data.
On October 7, Russia’s consumer rights protection authority (Rospotrebnadzor) banned imports of Lithuanian dairy products to Russia over numerous claims to their quality and safety. Thus, Rospotrebnadzor experts found that Lithuanian dairy products contained substances not indicated on the packages. Apart from that, these products were found to contain dibutyl phthalate.
On Tuesday, the Lithuanian side asked Rospotrebnadzor to hold talks on that matter. According to Russia’s chief sanitary doctor and Rospotrebnadzor head Gennady Onishchenko, Lithuanian presidential adviser Antanas Vinkus, a former Lithuanian ambassador to Russia, contacted him personally asking for negotiations, which can be launched within days.
Russia is a key market for Lithuanian dairy products. Lithuania exports to foreign markets more than 50 percent of its overall dairy product output and almost 85 percent of these exports go to Russia. In 2012, the country exported to Russia 370,000 tonnes of dairy products worth 193 million U.S. dollars, or about 27 percent of the Lithuanian market milk volume. According to Russia’s national dairy producers union Soyuzmoloko, Lithuania’s key exports to Russia are cheese, accounting for 39,400 tonnes worth 181 million U.S. dollars (in 2012), yogurt - 1,550 tonnes worth 3.87 million U.S. dollars and butter - 267 tonnes worth 1.3 million U.S. dollars.
Lithuania’s top five dairy plants are Pieno Zvaigzdes (Svalia brand), Rokiskio Suris, Zemaitijos Pienas, Vilkyskiu Pienine and Marijampoles Pieno Konservai.