MOSCOW, July 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia may ban all food imports from Ukraine if it ratifies its agreement with the European Union, the Russian agricultural watchdog said on Wednesday.
“We need to decide how we are going to deal with such deliveries because EU laws differ from the Russian ones to a large degree,” Alexei Alekseyenko, assistant to the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Inspection (Rosselkhoznadzor), told Itar-Tass.
Ukraine’s ratification of the association agreement with EU will force Russia to apply the same rules to goods coming from Ukraine as to the products from other EU countries. If Ukrainian enterprises fail to switch over to new requirements by that time, Russia will have to stop deliveries of food products from Ukraine.
Rosselkhoznadzor suggests that Ukraine’s veterinary service start early consultations to discuss the transition to requirements which the Customs Union sets for goods imported from EU.
Lyudmila Manitskaya, the executive director of the Russian Union of Dairy Enterprises, told Itar-Tass that the ban on Ukraine’s food imports could help reducing the number of counterfeit products in the Russian market. She noted that counterfeits formed the bulk of Ukraine’s cheese exports to Russia.
Russian consumers are unlikely to notice temporary disappearance of Ukrainian goods. “Products from Lithuania and Belarus will arrive in abundance,” Manitskaya added.
For the moment, Russia has banned cheese imports from 13 plants in Ukraine; Ukrainian potatoes presumably infected with golden nematode is also forbidden in Russia just as pork imports for fear of African Swine Fever.
Russia has also banned all chocolate imports of the Roshen Company owned by Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko because of quality and safety concerns.
Anna Popova, the head of the Federal Service for the Protection of Consumers’ Rights (Rospotrebnadzor), told a news conference on Wednesday that canned fish could be added to the list of prohibited Ukrainian food products soon.
According to the Federal Customs Service, Russia’s food imports (except for drinks) from Ukraine have reached $ 495 million in monetary terms and 229,600 tonnes in physical terms since the start of 2014. The bulk of Russia’s imports from Ukraine consists of dairy products (106.3 million USD); chocolate and other cocoa-containing products (63 million USD); fruit juices (21.1 million USD) and canned vegetables (20.5 million USD).