MINSK, November 28. /TASS/. Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Rusyi said on Friday the republic would resolve all its problems with food supplies to Russia and shipments of goods through Russian territory by December 2.
“We will sign documents on the problems we have encountered on December 2,” Rusyi told journalists.
Belarusian officials already had talks with Sergey Dankvert, head of Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service Rosselkhoznadzor, Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolay Fyodorov and Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, the deputy prime minister said.
European Union specialists, representatives from the International Epizootic Office and chief veterinary officers from Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine were also expected in Minsk on December 1, Rusyi said, noting plans to create a unified system to combat the African Swine Fever virus.
According to Russian customs data, Belarus has considerably increased imports of agricultural products since Moscow introduced its embargo on imports from the West at the start of August. Belarusian imports rose 80% to more than 354,000 tonnes between August and October compared with the same period last year, the customs data show.
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.
Russian food standards officers introduced tougher controls of food being transported across Russia from neighbour-state Belarus to third destinations.
Regulations effective from November 30 are designed to close illegal transit routes which authorities say are channelling frozen meat from Europe into Russia — products Moscow has banned in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine. From this date, consignments must be examined at Russian checkpoints before being allowed through.
Tougher laws are needed to battle increasingly frequent attempts by Western suppliers to circumvent Russia’s ban on food imports, fraudulently re-exporting European fruit and vegetables through Belarus and Kazakhstan under the guise of transit, Russian officers say.
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.