Ambassador: Russia will not ban Serbian food exports

Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Chepurin has said that the export of Serbia's agricultural produce to Russia had not been compromised in any way.

Source: RTS, Tanjug

After talking with Serbia's Minister of Trade Rasim Ljajic and Minister of Agriculture Snezana Bogosavljevic-Boskovic, Chepurin said on Tuesday that there had been no risk that Russia might introduce a ban on fruit and vegetable exports from Serbia.

The relevant inspectorates will discuss the technical matters relating to exports in Belgrade as soon as next week, he said.

Ljajic and Bogosavljevic-Boskovic informed Chepurin about the newly-established export control system for fruits and vegetables heading to Russia, which the relevant services of the two countries put in operation on March 2 this year.

The system implies the sending of scanned phytosanitary certificates even before a shipment is sent to the Russian market so the competent bodies know in advance the exact content of shipments expected to arrive in Russia, Ljajic's office stated.

Previously, media reports suggested that Russia was mulling a ban on fruit coming from Serbia due to suspicions that repackaged EU produce was being exported from Serbia.

Speaking for the state broadcaster RTS on Wednesday, Ljajic said Serbian exports to Russia have not been jeopardized, but that more strict checks and certificates will be introduced.

He also explained that there was "a communications problem" between the Russian Ministry of Agriculture and the Serbian embassy in Moscow, when "the Russian partners found documents submitted on time only several days later."

The documents, the minister added, provide "a clear overview of the products we produce and their amount, as well as the amount we export to the Russian Federation and to the EU."

Another reason, he said, was the suspicion that "one of our exporters attempted to forge our certificates."

"There's no reason to hide anything, there's been incredible media commotion over here. But now, when it has been announced that there were no problems, there's not a word about that in the newspapers," Ljajic observed.

According to him, the two countries' ministries agreed on introducing measures aimed at preventing future abuse.

Commenting on Ambassador Chepurin's statement that the value of Serbian food exports to Russia would reach USD 500 million during the next 12 months, Ljajic said a preconditions for this would be "stabilization of circumstances and normalization of relations between the EU and Russia."

"A strong market suits us, not in order to make use of sanctions, but of the free trade agreement we have with the Russian Federation. Sanctions are not our trump card, because ruble's oscillations have disrupted the possibility of our expectation of (placing) a significant amount of our goods to the Russian market," the minister was quoted as saying by the RTS website.

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