Russia’s response measures in the sphere of trade in food products are based on the same logic and argumentation as the European Union partners’ argumentation, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told Russian reporters on Thursday.
“I recall the wording the European Union uses in energy co-operation with Russia when it sets the long-term goal of reducing the dependence on Russian energy supplies. Our measures in the food sphere - it’s also a kind of implementation of the long-term well-known strategy of reducing the dependence on agricultural imports,” Chizhov said.
The Russian government on Thursday imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said. In response to Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday to ban for one year the imports of agricultural, raw and food products from the countries, which imposed sanctions against Russia.
Chizhov said that back in the 1990s, “our European partners, basically, very easily and without any competition, first and foremost offered by Russian producers” won the Russian market and “got used to this.” “Moreover, they were never going to reduce this food flow into Russia,” the official said.
He added that restrictive measures against poor quality products used to be taken, but “every time even these indisputable situations caused emotional outbursts and accusations that Russia used trade issues for political purposes.”
Chizhov said he had not seen any official reaction of the European Union to Russia’s retaliatory measures, but he had no doubt that they would follow.
“Our argumentation is rather solid and convincing. In essence, it is based on the same words and logic as the argumentation of our European partners,” Chizhov said. The ambassador added that working out the retaliatory measures, the Russian government observed the rules and norms of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), because Moscow, unlike Brussels, “tries not to shoot itself in the leg and not to expose itself to the WTO showdown.”
The diplomat added that in most items the share of Russian products on the market reaches 75-85%, except beef, where it accounts for some 40% “But the potential beef suppliers to the Russian market are already queuing up. They are, first of all, Latin American countries from among major meat producers,” Chizhov said.
He foresees no problems in this regard on the Russian market. “Short-term profiteering incidents may occur, of course, but I’m sure that our relevant controlling bodies will take care of this,” the diplomat said.