Putin signs decree banning agricultural imports from West


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning or limiting the import of agricultural products from countries that imposed sanctions on Moscow, the Kremlin press office said Wednesday.

The decree, which came immediately into force, ordered the government to draw up a detailed list of products that would be banned or limited for up to one year.

The government should also adopt measures along with national producers and retailers to increase the share of domestically produced goods, said the decree.

Russian Deputy Economic Development Minister Alexei Likhachev told Interfax news agency that the list was ready and had to be approved by the government.

Maxim Medvedkov, director of the department for trade negotiations of the Economic Development Ministry, said the ban “does not contradict WTO (World Trade Organization) rules.”

Russia’s retail networks would thus need a month or two to substitute foreign suppliers with other partners, an industry official said.

“The restrictions will most likely affect only the premium segment, while average consumers won’t feel any impact,” Andrei Karpov, executive director of the Association of Retail Traders, told reporters.

“The decision has been made and it will be, without doubt, implemented,” RIA Novosti news agency quoted Karpov as saying.

Among potential substitutional suppliers, Karpov mentioned China and Latin American countries, as well as domestic operators.

Also on Wednesday, Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision, Rosselkhoznadzor, said authorities will hold meetings on Thursday with diplomats from Ecuador, Brazil, Chile and Argentina over issues involving agricultural import.

Local authorities have said the ban would cause a “short-term food price hike,” but agreed that there won’t be long-term hike.

The move marked the first substantial response Moscow made amid rounds of sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada over the ongoing Ukraine crisis.

Putin has said that Moscow’s retaliatory response “should be done very carefully, so that domestic manufacturers are supported without detriment to consumers.”

Moreover, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Wednesday that Russia was mulling more measures to protect its economy “in a tough, persistent and active manner.”

“You’ll be informed about the countermeasures soon. They will also concern the existence and survival of Russia’s rocket and space industry,” Rogozin told reporters during a visit to a major space corporation.

“It’s like in a war … Nothing personal,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. PNA


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