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VLADIVOSTOK, September 5. /TASS/. Holland is ready to sell flowers from third countries using a representation in Russia to avoid the claims from Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance [Rosselkhoznadzor] and in order to keeps its market share, Russia’s Trade Representative in the Netherlands Alexander Cherevko said during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Saturday.
Flora Holland, a well-known flower auction, considers opening an affiliate in Russia. "We had initial talks with representatives of Russian companies at the initiative of Flora Holland back three years ago," he said. "Now, following the claims from Rosselkhoznadzor to flowers from Holland and following the direct contacts from Russian companies towards other countries supplying flowers, the talks have resumed."
The thing is that Holland exports not only own products - tulips and chrysanthemums, but also re-exports flowers grown in other EU countries and in Ecuador via the world’s biggest auction - Flora Holland.
In late July 2015, Rosselkhoznadzor notified phyto-sanitary authorities of several countries, which certify flowers from the Netherlands, about major problems with safety of the products and suggested having consultations and suspending certification of Holland flowers intended for the Russian market. From August 10, import to Russia of flowers from the Netherlands is allowed only upon passing laboratory tests: every consignment is being checked. On August 19, Rosselkhoznadzor said it may ban flower supplies from the Czech Republic and Slovakia as those countries had ignored the Russian demand regarding certification of flowers from the Netherlands.
Russia stopped import of flowers from the Netherlands for similar reasons back in summer 2004. Later on, Russia presented new claims about an illegal turnover in the Netherlands of phyto-sanitary certificates and in December 2004 Russia banned import of all phyto products from that country. The ban was lifted in 2006.
In summer 2015, Russia’s Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev suggested adding European flowers to the food sanctions list , but the idea was not reflected in the decision to extend the embargo to August 7, 2016.
The Russian trade representative said some traders had quit Flora Holland due to the claims from the Russian agricultural watchdog. Thus, Russian companies, which used to work with Flora Holland, began to establish direct contacts with suppliers in other countries. In August 2015, TASS reported Ecuador, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and some other countries had been discussing with the watchdog new logistics routes to deliver flowers to Russia bypassing the Netherlands.
Using a Russian-based representation, Flora Holland plans to trade first of all flowers supplied from third countries in order to avoid the limitations from Rosselkhoznadzor referring to import of Holland flowers. "In Russia, Flora Holland will cooperate with suppliers from other countries and will direct the flows via itself," the trade representative said. "Holland wants to keep its share in Russia’s flower business by using products grown in other countries." He said a decision on future of the Holland flower business in Russia is due before the yearend.
The Holland businesses are very concerned about the situation with California thrips and the decision taken by Rosselkhoznadzor and is fighting the thrips to meet requirements of the Russian regulator, the trade representative said. The Wageningen University and Research Centre [in the Netherlands] has organised a special commission to study fighting the thrips, he said. Before the year-end, Holland experts are expected to present variants excluding fully the thrips in consignments of flowers to be supplied to Russia.
Over the past month, there have not been cases of found thrips in flowers to be exported, he said.
As the ban was introduced, Holland had to undertake additional expenses to meet the requirements, the representative said. "Unlike Russia, other countries do not have similarly strict requirements regarding California thrips," he said. "For Holland the requirements of the Russian watchdog and putting on fire of supplied consignments of flowers mean a big image damage."
Russia has been a major client for flowers from Holland, it is the fifth biggest importer of flowers from the Netherlands. The Russian Customs Service reports in 2014 from the Netherland the import of flowers made 30.7 thousand tonnes worth $225.4 million, which is 39% of the entire import of flowers. TASS has calculated using information from the customs and from the florist.ru portal that Holland flowers including re-export take 34-35.5% of the Russian market. The Russian trade representative says export of flowers from the Netherlands in 2015 has made 4.6 billion, which means it is about ten billion euro a year. Most supplies go to Germany and other EU countries.