Russian ban may extend to West Africa
Russia's food safety watchdog has earmarked nine West African countries as in line for produce import restrictions, due to the suspicion of fake certificates.
Authorities have actively discouraged the use of gray channels for foodstuffs banned under Russia's counter-sanctions imposed in August, 2014, applying to nations that have supported EU sanctions against the country since incursions in the Ukraine.
The country's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) frequently intercepts and destroys fruits and vegetables re-exported through third countries, with Belarus and Kazakhstan as the most common transit points.
Now the service is calling into question imports from a region seldom discussed before, pointing to the doubtful authenticity of many regulated products labeled as coming from Cameroon, Cote D'Ivoire, Benin, Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In an announcement late last week, Rosselkhoznadzor said as of June 18 it would prevent the entry through international checkpoints of “regulated products of high phytosanitary risk” from Cameroon, Sierra Leone and the DRC.
The measure will also apply to regulated products (pears, apples, strawberries, tomatoes, mushrooms) from Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.
The exact nature of the regulations is still unclear, but it is understood to apply to fruits and vegetables with suspected fake certification arriving in Russia via land borders.
The Russian embargo as it relates to Ukraine conflict-related sanctions has been extended until late 2017, and applies to foodstuffs from the European Union, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Norway, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Turkey is another country whose produce sector is caught up in political conflict with Russia, and a wide range of Turkish produce items has been banned from the market since January this year.