Russia bans food imports to retaliate against sanctions

August 8, 2014 09:20

Russia has decided on a total one-year’s ban on food imports, including fish, from the European Union (EU), United States and some other Western countries in response to the sanctions implemented against it over the events in Ukraine.

The measure, ordered by Vladimir Putin, isolates Russian consumers from world trade and affects all meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables imported from the US, the EU, Canada, Australia and Norway, Reuters informed.

Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov explained the country would compensate with more imports of products from other suppliers such as Brazilian meat and New Zealand cheese.

The ban is likely to hit the imports of Norwegian fish, such as salmon, trout, cod, capelin, mackerel and herring. It will also affect Finnish food, given about 25 per cent of exports go to Russia; and Swedish food and agricultural exports, Barentsnova informed.

Minister Fyodorov claims he is ready to reconsider the validity period of the ban if the “partners show a constructive approach”.

For his part, US President Barack Obama pointed out that "violence in Ukraine hasn't stopped even as sanctions against Russia have increased."

Nevertheless, although he highlighted "The economy has ground to halt," he also recognised that the increase in sanctions to Russia has not stopped the violence in Ukrania, where the conflict remains unresolved, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, Peter Ørebech, a professor at the University of Tromsø, claimed that Russia’s general import ban would violate its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“You can try to regulate imports by imposing customs duties but you can’t block imports unless they pose a danger to people’s lives or health,” Ørebech told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

The professor highlighted that Norway can file a protest against Russia, and if it’s ignored, file a protest with the WTO for Russia to be excluded from the organisation.

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