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MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. Belarus has considerably increased imports of agricultural products since Moscow introduced its embargo on imports from the West at the start of August, Russia's federal customs service said on Thursday.
Belarusian imports rose 80% to more than 350,000 tons between August and October compared with the same period last year, according to Russian customs data.
Western countries subject to Russian sanctions, primarily Lithuania, have stepped up supplies of dairy products to the republic in recent months, spokesman Alexander Smelyakov told TASS.
Belarus imported about 150 tons of dairy products in August, and more than 10,000 tons in October. Canadian pork imports rose from 208 tons in August to 3,600 tons in October. Fish supplies from Norway to Belarus increased almost two-fold to 6,500 tons, while October imports of Polish apples rose to 11,430 tons from 3,580 tons in August.
An unusual growth of imports from the European Union, Norway, Canada, Australia and the United States to Belarus aroused suspicion that those products might be illicitly reexported to Russia through the neighbouring republic, side-stepping Moscow's embargo.
Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary agency Rosselkhoznadzor said earlier the regulator aimed to improve monitoring of Belarusian products following increasingly frequent attempts by Western suppliers to circumvent Russia’s ban by illicitly reexporting European fruit and vegetables through Belarus.
The ban announced in August bars imports of meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the United States, the 28-nation European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway for one year in retaliation for sanctions imposed by those nations on Russia over events in Ukraine.
Combined with other import bans imposed earlier this year, the latest trade measures covered Western imports worth $9.1 billion in 2013, according to Russian customs data.