Russia bans food imports from Canada, then loosens sanctions
The agricultural sanctions, detailed Thursday, are the latest step in escalating tensions between Russia and the West amid ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Canada had added its own new sanctions on Wednesday before Mr. Putin fired back at the West by choking off agriculture imports.
Russia’s year-long agricultural import ban, announced by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday, affects meat, fish, milk and milk products and fruit and vegetables from Canada, the U.S., the European Union, Australia and Norway.
In 2012, Canada agri-food and seafood exports to Russia totaled $668-million, or about 1.3 per cent of total exports in those categories, federal figures show. The bulk of that figure is pork exports.
However, since Russia’s sanctions were imposed, Reuters reports that the Russian government is seeking to arrest the soaring food inflation which has kicked in since Russia’s sanctions came into effect. Fish prices have already risen by between 20% and 36%, according to the Russian business paper Kommersant. Other goods are expected to follow suit.
Russia imports some 43% of the food it consumes and while efforts are underway to source alternative supplies, with Moscow banking on the agricultural powerhouses of South America, the import ban is expected to have a greater impact on Russia’s markets than those it has sanctioned. The ban was supposed to last one year; already this week, Medvedev had said he hoped the ban would not last long.