EU says it will ask Latin American nations, including Ecuador, not to supply food to Russia following sanctions

Aug 12, 2014

The European Union plans to urge Latin American countries from providing Russia with agricultural produce, saying it would be unfair and ‘difficult to justify.’

“We will be talking to the countries that would potentially replacing our exports to indicate that we would expect them not to profit unfairly from the current situation,” the Financial Times of London quotes one senior EU official talking at a briefing on the situation in Ukraine on Monday.

chl correa 16The food producers could sign new contracts with Russia, but it would be “difficult to justify” the desire of the countries to pursue the diplomatic initiatives to fill the gap left by the EU, the official added.

Another EU official explained that negotiations could be part of political discussions aimed at addressing the importance of a united international front on Ukraine, rather than hindering food exports to Russia.

Despite being the world’s largest trading bloc, the EU has little influence, as its 15-year negotiations with Latin America’s Mercosur have been mired in difficulties over market access.

Ecuador is one of the countries considering exporting products to Russia. “We don’t need anyone’s permission to sell food products to friendly countries, as far as we know. Latin America is not a part of the European Union,” Correa said on Tuesday.

Ecuador’s minister of foreign trade, Francisco Rivadeneira, said the Ecuadorian government is currently assessing the possibility of increasing food exports to Russia and creating a list of products that could see increased provisions to Russia in the short- or medium-term.

Last week, the head of Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergei Dankvert, discussed the possibility of increasing the Ecuadorian food supplies to Russia with current Ecuadorian Ambassador to Russia Patricio Alberto Chavez Zavala.

Since Russia imposed an import ban on agricultural products from the EU, US, Australia, Norway and Canada, several Latin America countries and trade groups have said Moscow’s measures could offer them a lucrative windfall.

Chile, Peru and Ecuador could be major beneficiary of Russia’s embargo on European fish, while Brazil immediately gave a green light to about 90 meat plants to start exporting chicken, beef and pork.

“Russia has the potential to be a large consumer of agricultural commodities, not just meat,” Seneri Paludo, Brazil’s Secretary for Agricultural Policy said, citing that Russia may also increase procurement of corn and soya beans.

Besides Latin America benefitting from the embargo, Belarus and Turkey are also believed to win from the supply gap.

The EU member states are meeting in Brussels on Thursday where they are expected to work out a comprehensive response to Russia’s food embargo.

Credit: The Financial Times of London, www.ft.com.

Photo caption: President Rafael Correa.

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