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Russia expands the list of trade claims against neighbors

September 04, 2013, 12:12 UTC+3

Russia seems to enter trade wars with regularity

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Russia’s chief sanitary inspector, Gennady Onishchenko, has said that Russia may restrict imports of wines from Moldova, says Novyie Izvestia daily.

Last week Russian authorities identified four batches of substandard alcohol of Moldovan origin totalling 28,000 liters. Onishchenko said the fears were rooted in unresolved problems blocking the re-establishment of a national system for controlling quality and security of alcohol productsin Moldova, says the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

Wine production constitutes a considerable share of the Moldovan economy. Earlier, Onishchenko re-opened Russia to Georgian wines. In spring of 2006, after deterioration of bilateral relations Rospotrebnadzor prohibited imports of Georgian and Moldovan wines and mineral water from Georgia due to their low quality.

“Everybody has long become used to such statements by the chief of Rospotrebnadzor. Possibly, they would have remained unnoticed this time, had the authorities not meddled in two trade disputes again - one with Ukraine and the other, with Belarus. Experts evaluate such steps as risky and have very big doubts regarding their success,” saysy Novyie Izvestia.

The Russian-Belarussian conflict went into higher gear on Tuesday, as the authorities of the neighbouring country imposed a ban on the import of pork from central Russia’s Vladimir Region. A number of experts say the trade war with Belarus was sparked by last week’s arrest of the general director of the Uralkali fertilizer manufacturer, Vladislav Baumgertner, in Minsk. The businessman has just recently terminated cooperation with Belarus’ major industrial enterprise Belaruskali. The Investigative Committee of Belarus on September 2 put multimillionaire Suleiman Kerimov, a shareholder of Uralkali, on the wanted list.

As for trading disputes with Ukraine, their outcome looks more predictable. The conflict started with a ban on confectionery products from the Roshen factory. Gennady Onishchenko said they were a health hazard. Later, Russian customs checkpoints virtually suspended the import of Ukrainian gods for several days. As presidential aide Sergei Glaziev has said, this way Russia is trying to persuade Kiev not to sign an agreement of association and free trade with the European Union.

“Events of the past ten days indicate that Russia does not seek to avoid trade wars at all. On the contrary, it starts them with amazing regularity. The largest one is with Georgia. Launched in 2006 it is still continuing. Alongside it there have been many gas, milk and cheese wars with Ukraine, a sugar and confectionery war with Belarus, a meat war with Poland and a wine war with Moldova,” Novyie Izvestia recalls.

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