Russia extends EU food import ban until end of 2020

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Russia extends EU food import ban until end of 2020

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday extending a Russian ban on food imports from the European Union until the end of 2020, according to a government database.

Russia first imposed the embargo on a wide range of imports from the EU and other countries in 2014 in retaliation for international sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, Reuters said.

According to the Unian Information Agency, the formal order outlined certain special economic measures the nation would take to ensure the security of the Russian Federation.

Specifically, the decree prohibited a number of imports from various countries for one year. These included agricultural products, raw materials and other food items.

On August  7, 2014, the Russian government issued decision No. 778, defining the list of products banned and the countries concerned, including all EU Member States.

As for the restricted food items, they are meats, dairy products, and fruit and vegetables.

Since then, the ban has been extended several times. And the products’ scope was further extended in October 2017.

The government issued another extension on July 12, 2018. This prolonged the embargo until December 31, 2019, under presidential decree No. 420.

The impact of Russia's embargo

As can be expected, the nation's embargo has at times played a significant role in the global agricultural industry.

In fact, EU agri-food exports to Russia initially dropped almost 50% in just a few years. They fell from around €11.8 billion (US$13.4 billion) in 2013 to around €6 billion (US$6.8 billion) in 2017, explained the European Commission.

After some time - in which year-to-year declines followed the ban - the EU agro-food exports to Russia recovered. They rose 20% from 2016 to 2017, said the commission.

It added that Russia has moved up to become the EU's fourth largest export destination for agri-food products. The top three are currently the U.S., China and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said it has worked with the EU member states to closely monitor the different markets affected by the ban.

It commented that it has taken a range of emergency measures, notably for the dairy sector and for fruit and vegetables.

In this way, it said it hopes to help producers address market pressure, stabilize prices and find alternative sales opportunities.

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