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Russia prepares to extend ban on food from EU, Norway, United States, Canada, Australia

By Ed Adamczyk
Russia prepares to extend ban on food from EU, Norway, United States, Canada, Australia
Finland's Oltermanni cheese was dumped on the Finnish market after Russia banned food imports from the European Union in 2014. Russia is expected to extend the food embargo through 2017, with some exceptions, including a new exception for meat and vegetables used to make baby food. Photo by Ville Saavouri/Wikimedia/Flickr

MOSCOW, June 1 (UPI) -- Russia is extending its ban on imports of food from the EU and other countries through the end of 2017, with exceptions for meat and vegetables for baby food.

The embargo, restricting imports of most food from the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, was instituted in 2014 in response to economic sanctions placed on Russia for its military and political involvement in Ukraine. In 2015 Russian president Vladimir Putin extended the embargo through Aug. 5, 2016 and added four more countries to the list: Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The government is preparing documents for another extension, and will deliver them to Putin, the state-owned Tass news agency said Tuesday.

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An exception was announced Wednesday for meat and vegetables used to make baby food, Tass reported.

"The embargo is currently effective until the end of August. I think these documents will be approved unless some miraculous changes occur in the geopolitics," Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said.

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While the United States exports little food to Russia, some European Union countries had a significant trade relationship with Russia prior to the embargo. A major dairy in one such country, Finland, announced the closing of a milk-processing facility because of losses caused in part by the lack of access to the Russian market. The Valio dairy company said it would close its Tampere, Finland, operations.

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"The milk market remains extremely difficult; Russia continues its trade sanctions against the EU. Due to global milk overproduction and weak global demand, prices for milk products are at a very low level. The removal of EU milk quotas has worsened the situation," a Valio statement said.

After the embargo began in 2014, Valio sold its "Oltermanni" cheese, popular in Russia, for half its regular price in Finland because of oversupply. Customers nicknamed it "Putin cheese" because of the large price discount.

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