- Posted October 7, 2013 by
Russia Restricts Import of Lithuanian Dairy Products, Meat, Fish
Russia's consumer protection service, Rospotrebnadzor, has ordered the Federal Customs Service (FTS) to stop imports of Lithuanian dairy products. Rospotrebnadzor named Pieno Zvaigzdes, Rokiskio Suris, and Zemaitijos Pienas among the dairies whose produce were substandard. Also, Rospotrebnadzor told FTS to impose stricter controls on Lithuanian meat and fish.
Dalius Trumpa, CEO of Rokiskio Suris, said the company had no information about such a ban, however. Jonas Milius, director of Lithuania's State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT), said also that there were no reports of problems with the export of dairy products to Russia. Lithuania's Ministry of Agriculture said it had no information about a Russian import ban, either.
Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) said it had not suspended the import of any Lithuanian dairy products. Rosselkhoznadzor had sent an inquiry to Rospotrebnadzor about the alleged violations by Lithuanian dairies. At the moment, Rosselkhoznadzor only applied restrictions to one importer of Lithuanian products.
The European Commission (EC) expressed confidence that Lithuanian dairy products were safe, EC spokesman Frederic Vincent said. He stressed that the EU food safety system ensured a high level of consumer protection. The EC called on Russia to follow WTO rules and take proportionate action only if some products failed to meet Russian sanitary standards, Mr Vincent stated.
Lithuania's President, Dalia Grybauskaite, said the Lithuanian government needed to prepare an application to the WTO in response to the Russian measures. She said the government had not yet used all methods to influence the situation. Earlier, the European Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, said the EU should turn to the WTO in case of a "trade war" with Russia.
Lithuania's former prime minister, Andrius Kubilius, said the government, together with the EC, had to turn to the WTO urgently because of Russia's discriminatory actions in trade, import of dairy products, and energy. Mr Kubilius said the government needed to be more active to resist the Russian pressure. He insisted that Russia's trade war was against the EU.
Lithuania's Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevicius, stated that the government did not intend to turn to the WTO yet. Mr Butkevicius said he did not exaggerate the importance of the reports of possible restrictions on the import of Lithuanian products to Russia. Vigilijus Jukna, Lithuania's Minister of Agriculture, said there was no reason to turn to the WTO yet.
Nerijus Maciulis, chief economist at Swedbank, said Russia was using its economic leverage to pursue political goals. Laurynas Kasciunas, analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre in Vilnius, said the import ban was linked to the EU's Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013. He noted that Lithuania's dairy imports had little influence on the Russian market.
Rimantas Rudzkis, professor of economics at Vilnius University, noted that Russia's economy was undergoing hardship. Given that Russia was a WTO member, the Russian government could not impose higher import duties and had therefore chosen another way to protect domestic producers. He expected Russia to take similar measures against other countries as well.
Robertas Dargis, chairman of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (LPK), said the problems were a consequence of Lithuania's lack of reasonable policy toward Russia. Speaking in an interview with Ziniu Radijas, Mr Dargis said Lithuania lacked a long-term policy toward Russia. He said Finland, which maintained good relations with Russia, was behaving more wisely.