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Russia agrees with Belarus on additional food import — Deputy PM

August 13, 2014, 13:17 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The volume of the additional food supplies to Russia from Belarus will be specified in the nearest future

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© ITAR-TASS/Viktor Tolochko

MOSCOW, August 13. /ITAR-TASS/.Russia and Belarus agreed on additional volume of Belarusian agricultural products import to supplement for a possible gap in food supplies caused by Moscow’s recently introduced sanctions against the West, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Wednesday.

The volume of the additional food supplies to Russia from Belarus will be specified in the nearest future, the high-ranking Russian official said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television news channel.

Dvorkovich said that in light of the recently introduced embargo on agricultural products supplies from a number of Western countries, Russia faced the necessity of “additional purchase of food products, including from Belarus.”

“Our Belarusian colleagues have possibilities of supplying meat, milk, cheeses, potatoes,” he said. “We have agreed to check on the mutual balances in the next few days and to approve the maximum and minimal levels of the [additional] supplies volume.”

The deputy prime minister added that the contract would be signed after the volume of the additional food import was determined.

Dvorkovich said that the extra volume of Belarusian products import would in particular help to supplement for the lack of agricultural products supplies in the Kaliningrad Region, a Russian enclave in the westernmost part of the country.

“I believe that the imbalance on the Kaliningrad Region’s market would be corrected by the Belarusian products,” he said. “We count on our friends.”

Russian Agricultural Minister Nikolai Fyodorov earlier said that the situation on the agricultural products market in the Kaliningrad Region, which borders on EU’s member states of Poland and Lithuania, demands a particular attention against the background of the recently introduced food embargo.

According to the earlier provided data by the Kaliningrad Region’s authorities, the share of the banned products made up for 15.8% of the total import volume in the Russian western enclave.

Kaliningrad Region’s major neighbor Poland announced on Sunday that the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had prepared a complaint for the World Trade Organization (WTO) in regard to Russia’s recently announced food sanctions against the West.

The Polish agricultural sector is likely to sustain heavy losses after Russia’s response sanctions in regard to the European Union. According to rough estimations, Poland’s losses from Russia’s ban on import of Polish fruit and vegetables may amount to 500 million euros (almost $669 million).

Cheese producers in Poland were also calculating possible losses as every fifth metric ton of cheese produced in Poland used to be exported to Russia.

In response to Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree a week ago to ban for one year the imports of agricultural, raw and food products from the countries, which imposed sanctions against Russia.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced last Thursday that the Russian government imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.

The list of the banned products includes cattle meat (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), pork (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), poultry meat and all poultry edible by-products, salted meat, pickled meat, dried meat, smoked meat, fish and shell fish, clams and other water invertebrates, milk and dairy products, vegetables, edible roots and tuber crops, fruits and nuts, sausage and analogous meat products, meat by-products or blood, as well as products made of them, ready-to-eat products including cheeses and cottage-cheese based on vegetable fats.

The United States and the European Union, as well as Japan introduced a range of sanctions against Russia after Crimea’s merger with the country and over Moscow’s alleged involvement in armed standoff in Ukraine’s southeast.

Moscow repeatedly rejected the threats of broader sanctions saying the language of penalties is counterproductive and will strike back at Western countries.

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