Russia bans Ecuadorian bananas and carnations; Could be retaliation for sale of scrap metal to U.S.

Feb 5, 2024 | 0 comments

The Russian food safety regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, has partially banned imports of bananas from Ecuador, the world’s largest exporter of the fruit, after claiming it found dangerous pest in shipments, the agency said in a statement on its website on Friday.

Ecuador banana producers say it is too early to say how a Russian ban on banana imports will affect total sales.

The ban targets five Ecuadorian exporters, and will come into force Monday, February 5.

The pest in question was a polyphagous humpback fly (Megaselia scalaris Loew), which is considered a dangerous quarantine item for Russia as it can contaminate a wide range of products and is a carrier of cholera and bee plague.

Rosselkhoznadzor asked the Ecuadorian Agricultural Ministry and commercial suppliers to investigate the producers and warned that more restrictive measures could follow if the authorities fail to take “appropriate action”. Russia is one of Ecuador’s largest buyers of bananas.

Ecuador’s Trade Office in Russia has requested a meeting with authorities at Rosselkhoznadzor to discuss this issue as soon as possible.

In a separate move, Russian regulator also banned imports of some Ecuadorian cut flowers, specifically carnations, which enter the country through the Netherlands, Germany, Latvia and Lithuania. Rosselkhoznadzor said it has sent notices to the relevant authorities of those EU states, requesting that they stop certifying Ecuadorian carnations as of February 9. The agency explained that it had found California flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), a pest it says can cause 100% crop loss in some cases.

The bans come days after Ecuador’s president, Daniel Noboa, announced plans to give the U.S. outdated Russian and Ukrainian-made military equipment he claimed was “scrap” in exchange for new U.S.-made military hardware. In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that the move would violate existing agreements, which do not allow Ecuador to transfer Russian-made equipment to a third party without permission from Moscow.

Viktor Bondarev, first deputy chairman of the Russian Senate Defense Committee, said that by sending arms to the U.S., Ecuador would also violate its neutral status in the Ukraine conflict, as they will eventually find their way to Kiev.

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