Russia places food import ban on West

Russia has announced a ban on most food imports from the West, including Australia, in retaliation for sanctions placed on Moscow.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has criticised Russia’s move and has promised to assist affected Australian farmers, ABC Rural reports.

The bans could cost Australia millions of dollars. According to Department of Foreign Affairs, exports to Russia in 2013 were worth:

  • Beef: $150m
  • Butter: $64m
  • Live animals excluding seafood: $55m
  • Meats excluding beef: $48m

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said the country will ban fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from Australia, the United States, the European Union (EU), Canada and Norway.

"There is nothing good in sanctions and it wasn't an easy decision to take, but we had to do it," Mr Medvedev said.

He says the ban is valid immediately and will last for one year.

The decision follows a decree signed by president Vladimir Putin ordering the government to ban or limit food imports from countries that imposed sanctions on Moscow for its support of rebels in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

Government to give struggling farmers a helping hand

Julie Bishop said the Government will help Australian farmers affected by the sanctions.

"The Australian Government will do everything in its power to minimise the impact on Australian agricultural producers, including through new trade agreements and the opening up of alternative markets for their produce," she said.

New Zealand expected to increase exports to Russia

Despite New Zealand imposing sanctions, travel bans or other measures, along with the EU, US, Canada, Japan, Switzerland, New Zealand has been excluded from the ban.

New Zealand and South America are expected to increase their export of cheese, butter and powdered milk to substitute exports from the countries covered by the embargo, according to a Russian News Agency.

Vegetables will be purchased in Turkey, Argentina, Chile, China, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, but Decofrut president Manuel Jose Alcaino, who is based in the Chilean capital Santiago, told www.freshfruitportal.com his country had lower stocks on hand due to the effects of frost and drought.

“This happened in the middle of our winter and Chile has barely any stocks, apart from apples, to have a rapid reaction to the situation,” he said.

“There are still no grapes, pears are practically not there, there are no stonefruit, so for all of that we’ll have to wait six months more until January or February to start to send significant volumes to Russia.”