Russia to extend ban on Western food imports until early 2016

Dairy products are one of the food types banned under the Russian embargo. [Paul Wilkinson/Flickr]

Russia plans to extend a ban on Western food imports for six months starting in early August, and may add new products to the list, in retaliation for extended European sanctions against Moscow, officials said on Monday (22 June).

European Union foreign ministers extended economic sanctions against Russia until 31 January on Monday, keeping up pressure on Moscow to help resolve the Ukraine conflict.

“Taking into account that the European Union has extended sanctions against the Russian Federation for half a year, I ask you to prepare my proposal to the president to extend the presidential degree (on the ban) for this period,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting with his deputies.

Russia had been widely expected to prolong the ban beyond an 8 August deadline, as officials previously said the decision directly depended on the European sanctions extension.

>>Read: Brussels plans help for pork sector hit by Russian ban

Russia’s Agriculture Ministry has started to prepare a proposal for the list of imports to be included in the ban and may add new products to the list, Ilya Ananyev, the ministry representative, told Reuters.

“We are preparing proposals on the list of products, its extension is not our decision,” Ananyev said.

The ban, which prohibits food imports worth $9 billion from the United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway, was imposed for a year in retaliation to Western sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

>>Read: EU ready to support dairy sector hit by Russia food ban

But the Kremlin is unlikely to approve the addition of new products to the list, sticking to what it calls a policy of reciprocity, one of the Russian officials said.

Russia banned imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk and dairy.

Russia banned the import of certain foods and drinks originating from the European Union as a response to Western sanctions over Ukraine’s crisis.

The Russian food ban, which took effect in August 2014, forced the European Commission to use agricultural funds to help EU producers hit by the trade restrictions.

Russia is the second most important destination for EU agri-food exports after the United States, representing in total a value of about € 11.8 billion in 2013, or roughly 10% of all EU agri-food exports, according to the Commission. The agri-food products covered by the Russian ban represent a value of € 5.1 billion in 2013 exports, it said in an information note, or 43% of EU agri-food exports to Russia.

Some sectors are affected differently however. Apart from emergency market support measures for the dairy sector, at the beginning of August, the Commission announced roughly €32 million aid for peaches and nectarines, and €125 million for perishable fruits and vegetables.

>> Read: Dairy sector to receive emergency EU funding following Russian trade ban

Subscribe to our newsletters


Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.